The international carpool company Uber made its official arrival in Paraguay Wednesday and starts receiving applications from potential drivers as of Thursday, it was announced. The service will become available for now in the cities of Asunción and Encarnación.
We are very excited to be part of the future of transport in Paraguay, and we want to accompany the country in its recent growth in terms of investment and modernization, Mariano Otero, regional manager of the Southern Cone region, said in a statement.
He added that the international company is aware that many people are currently looking for additional transport options and the company aims at that niche. There are over 17,000 potential driving partners interested in the new job opportunity, according to Uber.
Uber started in 2010 as a quick solution for those who need a transport service. In Paraguay, long before its arrival was officially announced, taxi drivers declared war on it.
According to the Traffic Department of Asunción's City Hall, there is no registration or permission granted for the operability of the company, while members of the City Council are already pushing for regulations that may render the whole project ineffective.
The proposed requirements, which do not apply to other parts of the economy, include that operators can only charge customers via electronic means of payment. In other words, Uber drivers in Asunción would not handle cash.
The regulations would also require that customers be informed on the fare prior to the start of the trip, which is already available within Uber applications.
Vehicle owners shall also be required to obtain a permit from the Mayor's Office, which shall be precarious and revocable. In addition, only the owner of the vehicle may be the service provider, according to the regulations put forward by councilors Rodrigo Buongermini and Federico Franco Troche.
But, as councilor Álvaro Grau notes, the same does not apply to regular taxi licenses, which are granted indefinitely and can even be bequeathed to the owner's legal heirs.
Uber cars are required not to exceed four years of service after the initial registration. Electric vehicles are to be granted an additional two years.
Other restrictive measures being entertained are a mileage taxation that would make it impossible for Uber drivers to offer, as it is the case in Colombia, a free service on election days.