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Frustrated e-hailing drivers in Soweto to government: ‘We will not be ignored’

E-hailing drivers including Uber, Bolt, during a national strike. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

E-hailing drivers including Uber, Bolt, during a national strike. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jul 17, 2023


The Soweto United E-hailing Association (Suea) said they will continue with the national shutdown and take their issues to the government’s doorstep if their grievances are ignored.

The shutdown was initiated on Monday after Bolt and Uber drivers decided to switch off their apps in an effort to demonstrate their frustration over the exploitation they get from e-hailing companies.

Speaking to eNCA, Soweto e-hailing association chairperson, Thato Ramaila, said they are unable to make a living from the money they earn.

“It's really overwhelming because at the end of the day we work for petrol and commission for these guys. We are unable to pay for our vehicles and sustain our daily lives,’’ he said.

Ramaila said it was unfair that they didn't have a say in how the commission was calculated and that the e-hailing companies were not regulated by government.

“They don’t negotiate with us, they don’t acknowledge our structures...They don’t consult with us in terms of security measures or anything regarding the commissions. And we find ourselves in a predicament because we don’t even know where these companies are, they always send someone to come and listen to our grievances but nothing is ever done,” Ramaila added.

Regarding safety issues, drivers have constantly expressed concern about being attacked by taxi drivers, drivers being killed, car hijackings, and customers refusing to pay for their trips.

Drivers have been incessantly calling for stringent measures in vetting clients. They say the lack of information about clients exposes them to danger as it's extremely difficult to trace them when a crime is committed.

Maile told the SABC that if the shutdown doesn’t attract attention, they will be more practical with their approach. They will take their grievances to the government’s doorstep.

“We need to show them that we can put this country on a standstill like the 1976 riots that happened in this country. We will put the government to a standstill. We will show them a demonstration they have never seen,’’ Maile warned.