Jordan court bans ride-sharing app Careem

Jordan court bans ride-sharing app Careem
Ride-sharing app Careem has been banned in Jordan by a West Amman court, with taxi drivers rejoicing but customers less than happy.
3 min read
22 April, 2018
Taxi drivers in Amman are rejoicing at the new ruling against Careem [Getty]
Popular pan-Arab taxi hailing app Careem has been banned in Jordan, following a surprise decision by a West Amman court earlier this week to suspend the service.

The Dubai-based company must obtain relevant licences in order to operate again in the kingdom, after several lawsuits were filed on behalf of taxi drivers hit hard by the service.

Lawyer Mahmoud Kharabsheh, acting on behalf of the taxi drivers, told Jordan Times the ruling means "those who work with Careem" will be barred from operating in the country, while the app itself will be blocked in Jordan.

Kharabsheh said Careem is costing taxi drivers customers, while the price of taxis themselves have fallen from 60,000 Jordanian dinars ($85,000) to as little as 40,000 dinars ($63,500).

This has hit taxi drivers hard who were already living on the breadline in the relatively pricey capital, Amman.

They complain that unlike unlicensed Careem drivers they struggle to cope with expensive red tape and taxes and new regulations are needed to set a level playing field.

"This is a fair decision as owners of yellow taxis are investors who paid millions for their investments and they pay income tax and they pay... registration fees and other investment fees as registered companies unlike drivers with Careem and other apps," the lawyer told Jordan Times.

Careem is a ride-sharing app widely used across the Middle East. Like Uber, it allows customers to hail taxi services via their mobile phones, from drivers registered with the app and who use their own vehicles.

The service is popular in Amman where public transport is lacking and many prefer the more stringent in-house regulations Careem provides, over conventional yellow cabs in the city.

Tens of thousands of Careem drivers are likely to be affected by the ban, along with many more customers.

Many customers have said the decision is out-of-step with the rest of the region, where technology and services like Careem have been embraced.

They also say it provides money for Jordanian drivers, where unemployment is high and the cost of starting an official taxi service is costly.

"Regulations and @careem in not fair, too bad our governments can’t learn as fast as needed, we need to step up and keep up with the world, every country is moving faster towards technology and innovation and if we keep pushing it away, it might be too late to grow," one Jordanian wrote on Twitter.

Careem and Uber were briefly banned in Egypt, after taxi drivers held protests against the companies. The Cairo government said it is working on new regulations that would bring the two companies in-line with taxi services in the country.

Careem has not yet responded to a request for a comment to The New Arab.