E-hailing drivers gathered at Zoo Lake, the drivers complaining about being exploited and neglected, they are demanding that the companies they operate under, namely Uber and Bolt, be regulated so that they can be protected from exploitation. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
E-hailing drivers gathered at Zoo Lake, the drivers complaining about being exploited and neglected, they are demanding that the companies they operate under, namely Uber and Bolt, be regulated so that they can be protected from exploitation. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Uber, Bolt drivers in SA protest over low wages and exploitation

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Oct 13, 2020

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Cape Town - E-hailing drivers and operators across various provinces staged protests - in National Transport Month - aimed at drawing attention to exploitation and low wages.

A private e-hailing company group director and e-Hailing Confederation of SA (ECSA) member, Gino Mjilo, said the protest was because of the continued exploitation of drivers by the app companies.

Mjilo said Bolt services fares and rates had dropped so far over the years that drivers and vehicle owners were struggling to meet their needs and put food on the table.

Mjilo said the companies had, over the years, embarked on discount and price-drop campaigns so much that not only were operators struggling financially, but it had sparked direct conflict between minibus taxi drivers and e-hailing operators.

“In the Western Cape, in particular, we have continued to see increasing numbers of Bolt drivers being shot and killed at pick up-points where they would have been requested to go fetch a passenger,” he said.

He said most of those cases were never solved, but the victims were not robbed of their belongings so it was obvious that the perpetrator was sending a strong message to Bolt drivers.

E-hailing operators’ interim committee secretary general Melitemba Mnguni said the fight against exploitation was their main priority in the quest to stop the unfair blocking of drivers, to reinstate all the drivers that were blocked for the same reasons and to stop Bolt-Go.

An Uber spokesperson said they were aware of a protest, but that the Uber app remained reliable for both riders and drivers.

Bolt South Africa manager Gareth Taylor also said they were aware that a small number of drivers chose to stay offline yesterday in protest.

Taylor said apart from slightly longer waiting times, the protest had not affected riders’ ability to hail a ride.

“Bolt respects every driver’s right to protest legally, peacefully and without impacting the rights of other drivers who choose to continue to operate and earn an income,” he said.

He condemned any form of violence directed towards drivers and passengers. He said Bolt engaged with its driver-partners through a variety of channels and was continuously developing tools that had a real impact on addressing drivers’ concerns.

Cape Argus

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