On the 22nd of November, tech giant Uber launched their ride hailing service in Dhaka. Their launch was met with widespread excitement and the hopes of a more convenient transportation future for Dhaka residents. Unfortunately, only three days after the official launch, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) published a notice declaring Uber “illegal” in its current form. Commuters and Uber drivers both were discouraged from using the service otherwise stern legal action would be taken. The argument is that the BRTA identifies Uber as a taxi service for which Uber cars would require different license plates, route permissions and a different paint job to name a few. On the flip side, Uber identifies itself as a software company which merely provides the services and framework needed to connect commuters with registered drivers.
Following the publishing of the notice, Uber said that they are working with the authorities to quickly sort out the legal issues. The BRTA welcomes new initiatives such as Uber into our country but has taken measures to ensure that Uber functions under Bangladesh’s legal framework. As of now Uber drivers can still be found on Dhaka’s roads and the service can be availed through the Uber mobile application. However, no follow-up notice was published by the BRTA which technically means that Uber is still illegal. Uber operates in over 450 different cities around the world and has faced legal issues in some of them as well.
The concept of Uber could revolutionize transport in the overcrowded Dhaka streets. The idea is that regular folk can register to become an Uber driver and offer rides to people whenever convenient. This means that there should, in theory, be less cars on the road as Uber drivers would be picking up and dropping off passengers on their way to and from a destination. Dhaka lacks a mass transit system and Uber offers a convenient way for commuters to both find a ride and avail quality taxi service.