E-hailing taxi drivers from Uber and Taxify took to the streets to demand for an increase in driver earnings rather than rider fares and to stop operator impounds. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
A peaceful demonstration by about 100 e-hailing Uber and Taxify drivers, who are calling for the service to become regulated, turned chaotic in minutes, resulting in seven officials suffering injuries and four drivers being arrested.

At the forefront of the protest yesterday were Uber drivers who claimed that traffic officers had impounded three vehicles near Gallows Hill Traffic Department. A scuffle broke out between the officers and the drivers. Officers used stun grenades to disperse the group.

One of the arrested Uber drivers said: “They impounded the cars because they said the march was illegal. When we tried to engage with the traffic officials, they insulted and swore at us which resulted in the altercation.”

City Traffic Services spokesperson Richard Coleman said their officers were called outside to clear the roadway after the drivers had blocked the road. “On arrival, the Uber drivers got out of their vehicles. On trying to move the vehicles, seven officers were assaulted

“There were four Uber drivers arrested for assault, illegal gathering and illegal protesting. Three vehicles were also impounded for obstructing. The roadway was cleared at 12.20pm,” Coleman said. However, police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said the four taxi drivers were arrested on a charge of public violence.

General manager for Uber sub-Saharan Africa Alon Lits said: “With fares, we constantly monitor and examine price sensitivities to ensure fares are correctly priced so riders continue to take trips and drivers have access to more fare-paying passengers. We understand fuel is one of the biggest weekly expenses, which is why drivers can also access rewards to help them reduce costs and keep more of their earnings.

“Regarding safety, we are currently speaking to authorities to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the violence that occurred in Green Point today to confirm if any of these drivers involved are using our app. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards violence and intimidation of any kind.”