Uber says a group of Uber and Taxify drivers who reportedly asked drivers to protest by going “offline” on Friday, want to create “unnecessary unrest and concern”.

Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg said the sentiments of the drivers did not reflect those of all drivers using the app. 

“These drivers seem to want to create unnecessary unrest and concern, and are not interested in engaging in any form of dialogue, which is questionable,” Allenberg said. 

‘Deactivations’ 

On Tuesday, Taxify and Uber drivers embarked on a strike over concerns about the e-hailing system’s fare, service fee, operating costs and rider demand.

An Uber driver told News24 that drivers were, among other things, faced with deactivation without proper investigation or without being given the opportunity to plead their side of the story when clients reported them.

However, Allenberg said they did not deactivate drivers unnecessarily, but had zero tolerance for any kind of bad behaviour which they had made clear in the company’s Community Guidelines.

“Drivers that were found to be involved in illegal acts or were acting violently to other drivers to limit their ability to earn a living were removed from the app,” she said. 

Allenberg added that drivers who continued to limit the choice of others or who behaved violently would be removed from the app.

‘Memorandum’

Allenberg said the memorandum that was issued by various drivers at Uber’s offices in Kramerville, Johannesburg, was addressed to Taxify and was signed by drivers who do not belong to the Uber app. 

“Therefore, this individual cannot speak for Uber and we struggle to understand how he can speak for so many diverse drivers who use Uber,” she said. 

Allenberg added that the issues raised in the memorandum were ones they were engaging about with drivers.

She said Uber was committed to ongoing engagements with drivers and would continue to engage with them through the appropriate channels.

Gareth Taylor, country manager of Taxify South Africa, said they increased rider fares on June 18 in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town in response to significant petrol price increases and the negative impact of those increases on drivers’ profitability.

“Taxify stood firm on its commitment that Taxify drivers nett 85% of the fare paid by riders which means that drivers using the Taxify platform earn approximately 13-20% more per trip than other e-hailing platforms,” he said in a statement.

Taylor said they have implemented a dedicated emergency helpline, provided by Namola, which shares a driver’s location with the authorities if they are in distress.

“In the upcoming months, Taxify will intensify our focus even further on ensuring that it is the preferred choice of e-hailing platform for South African drivers,” he said.

Taylor said they would, among other things, offer an armed response security service to drivers who activate the SOS button in the Taxify app and implement upfront pricing, so that drivers can be assured that riders have the correct amount of money available for cash rides.

He said Taxify continued to engage regularly with their drivers to hear their concerns, “receive their feedback, and it constantly works to find ways to increase driver revenue, reduce costs, and improve safety”.

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