Only three days after launching in Dhaka to great fanfare, the Uber taxi service has been declared “illegal” in Bangladesh by the road transport authority.
“Uber violates the taxicab policy of Bangladesh," BTRA Director Nurul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune.
Since its founding just seven years ago, San Francisco-based Uber’s popularity has expanded rapidly, partly due to its low fares compared to traditional taxis. But it has already run into opposition in Bangladesh.
"A company needs to take permission from the BRTA before running a taxi service, but Uber did not before its launch," said Nurul Islam. "Therefore we declared the service illegal by publishing a notice in different newspapers.”
The notice warns the owners and drivers of Uber against the continuation of the service and says anyone found to be using Uber will be "punished accordingly".
The notice also says that any car or microbus that runs on hire must be painted in different colours (black body and yellow top) and have necessary route permits in accordance with the law.
The 'e-hailing' service began operating on Tuesday, promising “safe, reliable and affordable rides” to Dhaka commuters. But only one day after the launch, ICT Secretary Shyam Sunder Sikder raised questions about the legality of the service.
“There is no legal barrier for apps like Uber in our country, but there is the issue of using private vehicles for commercial purposes: it is not allowed here,” the ICT secretary said.
In a media statement on Tuesday, Uber India and South Asia President Amit Jain said the company’s goal was to use technology to “make our cities more accessible” while “reducing congestion and pollution”.
“In line with the government’s vision of Digital Bangladesh, we are thrilled to be in Dhaka to harness technology for the benefit of riders, drivers and the city,” Amit Jain said.