Uber and Taxify drivers on the march from Rietondale to the offices of their companies demanding improved incentives and trip costs. Picture: Oupa Mokoenab / African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - The rise in the petrol price to R16 a litre prompted Uber and Taxify drivers to march to force their companies to improve incentives and trip costs. Drivers in Pretoria and Johannesburg took part in the protest, driving in convoys to highlight their plight.

Pretoria drivers gathered at an open ground near Soutpansberg Road in Rietondale and marched to the Uber offices in Garsfontein. However, the office was closed because management knew of the protest.

The drivers said they were being exploited by their app-service partners, who deducted percentages from trip fares. Uber and Taxify drivers had to bear the costs of fuel, car maintenance and passenger liability insurance. The two companies should increase the cost of trips and improve standard trip flat rates from R20 to R50, they said.

Tshwane Uber and Taxify operators chairman Chris Rabohali said almost every e-hailing service driver was in debt because the cars were under finance.

“Every driver here has to make car finance repayments and pay for passenger liability insurance as well as petrol every day," he said. "Insurance costs are at least R2000. Combine that with car repayments, maintenance and living expenses, and we are barely surviving."

Rabohali claimed that Uber, on paper, deducted 25 per per trip, but their calculations convinced them this was in fact 27.7percent Drivers didn't understand why Uber called them partners when it didn't consult them about changes or the decision to deduct a fee for security.

“Living costs have dramatically changed," he said. "It’s about time Uber and Taxify took note. To make matters worse, since violent confrontations erupted, Uber added a security component, but made us pay for it. We're struggling to support our families.”

The drivers said Taxify increased trip fares by 50c last Wednesday, but that was still not enough. They claimed the operator was concerned about losing clients to Uber if it increased the fare any higher.

Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg said: “We constantly monitor fares and examine consumer price sensitivities to ensure these trips are correctly priced. If fares were to increase, passengers may take fewer trips, leading to lower earnings.”

Uber had daily 24/7 support and regular partner round tables, she said; a 25 percent standard service fee was deducted from drivers to pay for running the app.

Taxify said it increased fares on June 18 in response to significant petrol prices increases. It said it stood firm on its commitment that drivers netted 85 percent of each fare, which meant that drivers using the platform earned approximately 13-20 percent more per trip than drivers using other e-hailing platforms. Taxify said it would intensify focus even further by allowing drivers to select their preferred destination, so that they can increase their earnings.

Pretoria News