File photo: Paballo Thekiso / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Load shedding has taken its toll on some metered taxi and e-hailing service drivers, forcing some to cut their working hours amid a spike in attacks on them.

While Eskom implemented stage 4 load shedding yesterday, the power utility warned South Africans to brace themselves for more blackouts this morning.

For Bolt (formerly Taxify) driver Tobia Mukarati, this means he will have to rearrange his working schedule. Mukarati drove out of Salt River in a hurry on Sunday night after dropping off a passenger who warned him there would be a blackout.

“For us drivers it is not safe in some areas, even during the day. So you can just imagine the risk of driving at night while there are load shedding problems.

“When a passenger calls, I could accept not knowing if the area is pitch black because we don’t know the schedules of all the areas.

“To be on the safe side I have to cut my working hours short. On Sunday, my last passenger was at around 8pm,” he said.

Mukarati said it was sad that drivers were made to work under difficult circumstances and didn’t have the freedom to accept requests in some parts of the city.

“I choose not to accept requests to Langa, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and some parts of Mitchells Plain at night because of the recent attacks. In separate incidents two other drivers I know were attacked and stabbed in Langa. Luckily they both survived,” he said.

Another driver, Patrick Chakazapasi, said more needed to be done to improve security measures for drivers.

Last week, a man, believed to be an e-hailing-service driver, was stabbed to death in Brooklyn. His body was found in his vehicle.

Police said he was stabbed during an apparent altercation with two men.

Bolt driver Robin Mark Dreyden was stabbed on March 2 and later died in hospital after being found by a motorist in Langa.

On March 7, police foiled a would-be hijacker who allegedly attacked and tried to hijack another Bolt driver in Table View.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said no arrests had been made regarding the Langa and Brooklyn incidents, although detectives were following up all leads.

Bolt country manager Gareth Taylor said their service had not noticed any impact on driver activity since the current round of load shedding was implemented.

“We condemn any form of violence directed towards ride-hailing drivers and passengers.

“Every South African has the right to earn a living and move around without risk of harm, intimidation or coercion, or fear of death or injury.”

Taylor said they were constantly looking for ways to improve the safety of their drivers and passengers.

“This includes an in-app integrated SOS emergency button that shares the driver’s details and location with Namola’s 24/7 call centre when activated,” he said.

“Using this feature, drivers can immediately call for the rapid deployment of private security and emergency services.

“This is in addition to the initial capability of connecting with police, ambulance and fire services.”

Safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said: “We are extending our feelers elsewhere, and we would be happy to have this conversation with Uber, Bolt and other cabs. We are happy for them to approach us.”

Cape Times