OSLO, October 10 — Uber announced this morning it was suspending its UberPOP ride-sharing service in Norway until adequate legislation had been adopted in the Scandinavian country.
The decision comes ahead of an October 27 deadline for Oslo to respond to the European Surveillance Authority, which has criticised the Norwegian method of awarding taxi licenses as being too restrictive and hindering competition.
"Why pause? Let us be clear: We want to operate within the law in Norway. Since UberPOP launched in Oslo three years ago, there has been a lack of clarity about new platforms like Uber and how they fit into the existing Norwegian model," Uber said in a statement.
"We acknowledge the importance of these questions. That's why we're engaging in a constructive dialogue with policymakers across the political spectrum to find a solution that works for all Norwegians."
The company said it was ready to restart UberPOP — its cheaper and less regulated service that puts passengers in contact with non-professional drivers — if new, more flexible regulations were adopted.
In the meantime, the suspension of services — which will take effect on October 30 — will deprive "hundreds of drivers" of a large source of revenue, Uber said.
"We think it was high time for them to take this decision, since they've been operating illegally," said the head of Norway's taxi federation, Oystein Trevland.
"They're trying to put pressure on the government but we're confident that our decision-makers are professional enough to not let themselves be influenced," he told AFP.
According to Norwegian news agency NTB, Uber has suggested several new regulations in Norway, including the automatic reporting of taxi drivers' income to tax authorities, and better pension and insurance conditions.
Uber claims to have around 280,000 users in Oslo.
Due to the lack of regulations for services like Uber, Norwegian police have cracked down on Uber drivers for not holding taxi licenses, and the company has been hit with a fine of five million kroner (RM2,645,000), which it has contested. — AFP-Relaxnews