Jamaica recommends immediate ban on ridesharing apps Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Minister of Transport Daryl Vaz has announced a ban on ridesharing or ride-hailing apps in Jamaica, with immediate effect.

He made the announcement Tuesday afternoon during his contribution to the 2024/25 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

Vaz said he was moved to act after being written to by a member of the Police High Command.

This follows the announcement by the police on Monday, that remains they discovered in Salt River, Clarendon, are believed to be those of missing St Peter Claver Primary and Infant School teacher, Danielle Anglin.

Anglin, who lived in Hellshire, St Catherine, was believed to have chartered a ridesharing service on the morning of May 13 when she went missing.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey says the suspect believed to be responsible for Anglin’s kidnapping and murder was arrested back in 2015 on sexual assault charges.

The senior cop lamented that the lack of communication between the police and rideshare companies poses a serious challenge to their investigative efforts. Vaz agrees.

“The government is not opposed to it; however, we’re adamant that the ride-hailing services must operate within the ambit of the law,” said the transport minister.

He said he has sought to engage the ridesharing providers, both locally and internationally, to streamline their operations within the regulatory regime.

“I want to publicly state that the only overseas provider that has indicated their willingness to operate within the legal framework is Uber,” Vaz disclosed.

“I summoned them and they came from corporate office (in the United States) to Jamaica to sit down with me and the team to have a discussion”.

The minister said those talks are ongoing, He said the  Transport Authority will be meeting with the local ride-hailing entities this week.

“In-Drive remains outstanding,” he said while stating that in addition to the government’s concerns about safety and security in the current environment, “there are issues related to undercutting in the market where lower fares that are charged that impacts on tourism, the economy in general, and the threat of other issues such as money laundering and terrorism”.

Vaz shared that he has written to the telecom providers “on a letter from the assistant or deputy commissioner of police, indicating the concerns for national safety, to discuss this very matter because of the complaints that I was getting from commuters and also from industry players who’re playing by the rules and pay their fees for their licence etc, and these apps are undercutting them both in fare, without any form of background checks and no monitoring by the Transport Authority”.

“My recommendation as of today, which will obviously have to be vetted for legal purposes, is that a ban on all of those ridesharing apps (be implemented) with immediate effect, until such time as we can come to the table and work out properly, how these apps will be regulated in terms of making sure safety, background checks of the drivers are done not only by the rideshare apps but by the Jamaican authorities – the police or the Transport Authority,” said Vaz.

“I make no apologies; I have a responsibility as a minister and an elected representative to protect the lives of the people,” he added.

He noted that the development in relation to the missing teacher was just one of several cases that the police have had evidence that these ridesharing apps have been used for criminal activities.