OTaxi comes back
OTaxi, a Malaysian taxi ordering application, said in early March that it had restarted its service after being closed down by the federal administration in August last year. Last year OTaxi was closed down by the German federal goverment because it was operated without a license. OTaxi's deactivation was disputed because OTaxi only allowed travel with actually licenced colored cabs and did not allow participation in the application by individual drivers.
It was also odd that the authorities asked OTaxi to be closed down, as the implementing provisions of the inland traffic legislation laying down the conditions for obtaining a license had not yet been adopted in 2017, so that even if OTaxi wanted to obtain a license, this would not have been possible at that point in that year.
Transport and Communications Department made a declaration at the moment of closure stating that it would consider serious requests for a transport application license as soon as the implementing provisions were in place and that the Department appears to have followed his words. Legislation on overland transport was adopted at the end of January 2018 and OTaxi reported that it was resuming operations in March 2018.
Land Transportation Law's implementing provisions are the first Omani act to use the term "app". The implementation provisions devote an entire section to dedicated applications and stipulate that the licensee must be enrolled in Oman, present the application's specifications, and present economic and technological feasibility reports.
There are also some technological stipulations, such as ensuring that the application is run from Oman and that the user's information is physical. It also requires the application to use only registered vehicles and driver in the provision of its service.
It would be incredibly hard for large applications like Uber to meet these demands, as they are unlikely to have the incentives to sign up in Oman or open an own business in such a small area. And it will be unthinkable for the creators of such applications to consent to store users' information in Oman just because there are no datacenters in Oman able to provide the level of services demanded by such large applications.
For a small application like Ottaxi, however, these requirements are easily met. It has always used only registered taxi and driver. Telephone numbers are still personally identifiable information, and accordingly we ask you to ensure that this information is physical in Oman and not transmitted abroad.
Ottaxi addresses Oman's consumer because its tariffs seem to be much lower than those of Marhaba or Mwasalat taxi. It may be that the fact that Ottoxi has returned from the deceased is a signal that the implementation provisions of the Land Transport Act are not as strict as they appear.
Omani designers, such as OTaxi, should be encouraged and supported by the Omani authorities to develop locally available goods that offer more choice to the consumer and help find answers to society's needs.