Well nobody knows for sure whether Careem and Uber are actually banned in Pakistan or not. It has been nearly a week now since the Governments of Punjab and Sindh ordered banning the services in their own respective way. Confusingly, they retracted on their actions only hours later.
It was the Lahore City Traffic Police which broke the news through their Facebook page. Moments later, Punjab Government representative, Umer Saif, came out to say that Uber and Careem had been brought to Pakistan after a collective effort and that the government wanted to see the services succeed. As strange as that may sound coming after the ban, the Punjab government went on to declaring the services not banned.
Despite official orders, which seemed to be verbal in nature, police officials continue their persecution of Careem and Uber drivers throughout Punjab. The situation was not much different in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, where people benefit from the quality and cheap services of Uber and Careem. Public surveys were carried out by a number of news networks and there was not one person who claimed that the services were detrimental to the country’s economic progress.
Unfortunately, numerous drivers of the service were either arrested, had their cars confiscated and even forced to pay a bribe. It is worth noting that most Careem and Uber drivers are usually driving part-time just to make an extra income on the side. Many are students or lower-wage workers and even driving another person’s car full-time just to get by. It is truly a shame and nothing is clear even till now.
How the Careem and Uber Ban Should Have Been Done
Careem and Uber went on to get injunctions from Pakistani courts in order to keep their service going and drivers on the roads. Despite numerous verbal reassurances from government officials, the ban was a sort of major confusion for all law enforcement agencies. Amazingly, the official notification shared by the Lahore City Traffic Police was regarded by one official as “premature”. If it was so “premature”, how was it made public by the biggest traffic police?
Both of the governments of Punjab and Sindh cited various reasons for banning Uber and Careem. The biggest being that the service in unregulated, there are not any fitness certificates for the cars being used and the drivers are unregistered with various departments. Really? Almost all of the public transportation in Pakistan could come under these reservations as being unfit for the roads. Why was the ban only limited to Uber and Careem, which are to say, probably the most convenient and safest ways to get around nowadays in Pakistan?
Clearly there is a need to read between the lines here. Instead of working out a solution with both Careem and Uber officials in the country, both governments fired shots first and then asked questions later. This seriously damaged the self-respect of thousands of drivers and hardworking citizens.
Just a piece of advice for Pakistani officials before they attempt at doing something similar again in the future. Think about the decision you are about to take. Think about it multiple times and see if there are any better solutions. Might is not right and does not need to be your first course of action. There are easier ways to do things and maybe consider starting with transportation which may actually be unsafe and deregulated such as rickshaws and privately owned buses.