Uber, taxify drivers threaten to shut down Gauteng over increases

A number of Uber and Taxify drivers have threatened to shut down Gauteng if their concerns over increases are not resolved.   

"We will come back here and shut down the whole of Gauteng on 2 July,"' chairperson for E-hailing Amalgamated of South Africa Phatjutju Mlilo told News24 on Monday. 

The group of more than a 100 protesters were gathered outside the Uber offices in Sandton to handover their memorandum of concerns.

Taxify driver Maxwell Hlongwa who was also part of the group said: "Today we want to tell them that we have...a problem with the rates that they charge clients. Secondly, the clients are given too much power against us." 

Bloomberg reported earlier that drivers went on strike as the cost of running cars increases with higher fuel prices.

An Uber spokesperson confirmed by phone that drivers at the US ride-hailing service gathered peacefully at a public park in central Johannesburg on Monday to discuss their grievances and aren’t available for trips.

They’re unhappy about the 25% service fee charged by Uber per ride, especially after the government hiked fuel prices for the third time this year.

"We are aware of a small group of driver-partners who are planning on going offline or will not be using the app today," Alon Lits, head of sub-Saharan Africa operations, said in an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg.

"The 25% service fee is designed in a way to ensure that the business is sustainable for both Uber and our driver-partners."

The arrival of Uber in South African cities from 2013 has sparked several, often violent, protests by drivers of traditional taxis, but those operating Uber vehicles have mainly gone about their business.

Taxify responded to Fin24 on Monday to say that one of Taxify’s core goals is to enable South African entrepreneurs to build successful businesses.

"The South African petrol price has increased by more than 13% since January this year. These increases have had a detrimental impact on the businesses and earnings of drivers using the Taxify platform," a company spokesperson told Fin24.

"Having engaged with Taxify driver-partners, and wanting to address their valid concerns, Taxify is responding to the impact that the petrol price hike has had on them by adjusting some of the rates it charges riders who use the Taxify platform."

Trips will be calculated at R0.75 per minute, and the cost per kilometre is now R7.50. The base fare of R5 remains unchanged, as does the minimum fare of R20.

"This small change to rider costs will have a major impact for the Taxify drivers, who will now on average earn 20% more than drivers using competitor platforms," the spokesperson said.

"Taxify drivers nett 85% of the fare paid by riders - a significantly higher percentage than drivers that use other platforms to connect with riders."

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