E-hailing drivers in Cape Town have embarked on a three-day stayaway

E-hailing driver are on a strike over safety concerns. File Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

E-hailing driver are on a strike over safety concerns. File Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 15, 2023


Cape Town - The Western Cape E-hailing Association (WCEA) has embarked on a 3-day stayaway.

It has listed a number of its demands and sent them to e-hailing companies such as Uber, Bolt and inDrive.

WCEA spokesperson Siyabonga Hlabisa said the current spate of violent crimes against drivers and the deepening levels of exploitation of e-hailing drivers or operators in the province, and others, by the major application companies continue to haunt the industry and society at large.

“Despite various attempts to highlight the plight of drivers, little has been done by the authorities to apprehend and prosecute the criminals targeting poor drivers daily.

“In addition, our various meetings with app companies to address the concerns/grievances of our driver members have produced little results.

“App companies continue to have the upper-hand in exploiting drivers through their unfair competing methods and exploitative business models.

“The apparent slow pace of the government in regulating the industry and its reluctance in taking a clear stand against unfair competition is adding to the dire situation faced by operators in the industry. Against this background there have been widespread calls by drivers to take action.”

They demand an end to unilateral and unfair deactivations/dismissal of drivers. Also, a drop in commission by app companies to 15%; improved equitable pricing structures; compensation for injury on duty; improved safety for drivers; and death and funeral benefits.

Regional Manager, East and Southern Africa for Bolt, Takura Malaba, said crimes against ride-hailing drivers is a concern. “Bolt continuously develops safety features and tools that address drivers’ safety concerns. Bolt drivers are also covered at no cost by Bolt Trip Protection insurance that covers emergency medical expenses, permanent disability, and death caused by an incident while on a Bolt trip.”

Uber said in terms of engagement with drivers they have a comprehensive approach that includes frequent round tables with drivers who opt-in to the meetings where they discuss specific topics and get feedback for current and future features, whilst maintaining the independent status of drivers.

“We’ve also collaborated with the E-Hailing Partners Council, Soweto E-hailing Association, Western Cape E-Hailing Council, and Metered Taxi Associations.

“Uber does not arbitrarily deactivate driver accounts; we adhere to strict community guidelines, which act as a “how-to” for both riders and drivers. We remain committed to maintaining an open dialogue dynamic between ourselves and all relevant stakeholders, for progressive and mutually beneficial discussions to take place.” the spokesperson said.

inDrive said they recognise the strike, but assured that their drivers are conducting operations normally.

“On November 2, we engaged with the Association to comprehensively address their concerns, especially regarding driver earnings. We proudly highlighted that inDrive ensures the lowest market commission, strictly capped at a maximum of 9.99% net.

“Regarding the issue of driver deactivation or dismissal, we strictly deactivate only those drivers who engage in inappropriate behaviour, as maintaining the highest safety standards for all our users is our top priority.”

The company added that they are continuously working on innovative measures to mitigate potential risks.

“Regarding funeral benefits, inDrive currently operates as an information platform that primarily facilitates user communication. Consequently, we are not in a position to offer funeral benefits. Nevertheless, we are deeply committed to ongoing discussions with our drivers to seek mutually beneficial solutions.”