The popular American company, Uber, has arrived in Jamaica.
They started offering service in the Kingston Metropolitan Area on Tuesday.
This despite no official word from Jamaica’s transport regulatory body, the Transport Authority. This is triggering confusion in the public.
Social media platforms are abuzz this afternoon as Jamaicans shared screen shots showing them booking rides on Uber to various locations across the capital city.
Ricardo Brooks has been tracking the story.
In e-mails to customers this morning Uber announced that the app is now available in Kingston.
The e-mails follow a statement from Uber announcing their debut in Kingston and St. Catherine.
Uber says it will provide residents and visitors with options to getting around the city and an opportunity to earn extra money.
Uber says its availability in Jamaica’s capital means that users can reliably get from one point to another with the ease of using their smart phones, while partners can earn money on their time.
Uber noted that its service is being offered in Jamaica through what it calls a “vehicle-with-driver” lease agreement.
The company says the Uber app will serve as a portal between two parties who will agree to sign a private lease contract every time they want to get around the city.
Uber says under that model, both the lessor partner and the user enter a private agreement that entails strict fulfillment of the rules.
Uber notes that all leases are covered by Guardian Insurance Company.
It quotes Guardian as noting that they were proud and honored to support the Uber app’s availability in Kingston.
A student of the Norman Law School, Sayeed Bernard, says he attempted to use the app and was able to get through initially to an Uber driver.
Several social media users posted screen shots showing that the rates advertised on Uber were cheaper than those charged by local cab companies.
When contacted Tuesday afternoon, Public Relations Manager at the Transport Authority, Petra Keane Williams, confirmed that it was aware of the reports circulating online.
Uber is a multi billion dollar company which launched in the United States in 2010. The company says it currently has 1.5 million leases in 10,000 cities across the world.
Meanwhile, taxi operators are up in arms against the launch of Uber in Jamaica.
They are charging that there is no transparency in the operation of Uber.
Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services, TODSS, on Tuesday afternoon warned Uber that it will not allow them to take over.
TODSS President Egerton Newman says Uber should not be allowed to operate under separate regulations from what already exist.
Newman raised concerns about who was advised of the company’s launch.
He says eye brows should be raised at this time.
The TODSS boss says the government’s role in the launch of Uber has still not been established.
He says clarity is needed.
Egerton Newman, President of TODSS, reacting to the launch of Uber in Jamaica.
Hykel Nunes contributed to this report.