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Online transportation network company Uber is now in Trinidad and Tobago. But the government of the twin-island republic is looking into whether it can legally operate there.
The Uber app was activated in Port of Spain and San Fernando yesterday, three months after the company announced it was heading to Trinidad.
The app allows consumers to submit a request for a driver in the Uber network, via their smartphones. The nearest Uber driver is alerted and sent to the location and the information about the vehicle is sent to the customer. The service typically bills a customer’s credit card through the app but last year Uber opened up a cash option, and both options are available in Trinidad.
The Dominican Republic is the only other Caribbean country among the 66 countries in which Uber operates.
But in a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Works and Transport said it was looking into the legality of Uber’s operations.
Under the country’s Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act, private vehicles are not allowed to operate as taxis.
“A major concern of the Ministry of Works and Transport in the operation of Uber is whether private vehicles would be used for hire,” the ministry’s statement said. “When you travel with an authorized taxi, you are ensuring the relevant checks and balances have taken place. Further, the use of a private vehicle for hire is contrary to its registration. The public is advised that no private vehicle should be used for hire.”
It also raised the issue of insurance, stressing that “using a vehicle contrary to its registration may have far-reaching implications for the driver and passengers”.
“In light of the above, the public is asked to exercise caution and due diligence,” the ministry said.