The e-Hailing Partners Council (EPCO) of South Africa has staged a two-day strike in the Gauteng province starting on 19 September to protest issues that drivers in the e-hailing industry experience on a daily basis but that have not yet been addressed.
Speaking on 702, Melithemba Chris Mnguni, EPCO Secretary, said that the provincial government has had several discussions with EPCO and committed to resolving their grievances, but that thus far, these have all been empty promises.
“We had a meeting with the office of the MEC in January this year, and in that meeting, the MEC was not present and resolutions could not be taken, but we were promised that after the briefing, resolutions would be taken and given to us within seven days,” said Mnguni.
“Until today, we have not received those resolutions.”
As such, the first day of the strike saw EPCO members and e-hailing drivers protest outside the office of Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi in Peter Rose Park, Johannesburg, with the Uber and Bolt offices in Sandton being the stage for the second day.
Taxi Association members: JHB. pic.twitter.com/tHotQg8pxo
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) September 5, 2023
EPCO highlighted numerous pressing issues that the e-hailing space in South Africa faces right now, comprising:
- Dynamic and upfront pricing model
- Fake roundtable consultations with government
- Attacks, harassment, and extortion by taxi drivers
- Lack of safety due to poor vetting of users/drivers
- Uber Trip Radar is unsafe and infringes on driver’s right to choice
- Confusion over government partnerships with Uber Eats scooters and Bolt Bajaj Qute cars
- Unfair dismissal of drivers and weaponising of Dekra roadworthy inspections to eliminate cars
- High commissions charged by e-hailing companies with unsustainably low prices that must be shouldered by drivers
The council therefore demands that the government endorses higher industry benchmarks and that the e-hailing companies themselves commit to complying with these benchmarks.
It also requests an ad-hoc committee between stakeholders in the government, taxi, and e-hailing industries that will give them a platform to communicate and address their differences, as well as a channel for e-hailing drivers and the companies they work for to convey their problems with one another and find resolutions, neither of which currently exist.
“Whenever a platform has got an issue with you, they just deactivate you, there is no explanation and you don’t have a right of reply,” said Mnguni.
“We are [also] being charged exorbitant commissions, and we want the commission to be reduced, and the prices that are being charged by the companies are not cognisant of the [operational] costs we are having, hence the poor service you are seeing lately, the cars that are broken down, if you compare with what Uber used to be before.”
Mnguni said that government is “the custodian of the industry” and that as a result, “they carry the responsibility to address the issues that are there,” and thus, EPCO’s first point of contact was the MEC’s office.