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Jamaica: Uber alarm

Ride-sharing entity Uber announced on Tuesday that it is now operational in Jamaica, sending off alarms among the thousands of taxi operators destined to collide with the Silicon Valley behemoth that has sparked conflict in transportation centres globally.

Uber’s bid to muscle in on the local market coincides with planned forays by at least one other company, Tekkwi, a ridership app that is scheduled to roll out in the north coast hubs such as Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Uber said that its app is available in Jamaica through a “vehicle with driver” lease agreement.

“This model is legally permissible in Jamaica, considering the applicable regulatory framework, and has been successfully employed in other countries in the region, such as Honduras and Colombia,” the statement read.

It is unclear whether Uber’s strategy is to piggyback on the 19,000 existing taxi licences, with 14,800 categorised as route cabs and approximately 4,300 being hackney carriages.

Globally, Uber taps private motor vehicle owners, who have challenged the market share of taxi operators, leading to court disputes and a battle for hearts and minds over haemorrhaged jobs.

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