Johannesburg - Transportation company Uber launched a petition on Friday calling on Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to assist with the violence against their drivers and allowing consumers to choose who they want to travel with, following recent attacks allegedly by metered taxi drivers.
“Last night (on Thursday night) in Sandton, a vehicle registered to use the Uber app was set on fire by unknown individuals. I am relieved that the driver of the vehicle was not injured and I met with him this morning to offer him our support," Alon Lits General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa said in a statement.
"However, we are extremely disappointed that this violence against Uber driver-partners continues and that policy makers and regulators are blaming this violent behaviour on a “turf war”.”
Videos showing two Uber vehicles that were set alight allegedly by metered taxi operators in Sandton went viral Thursday night, with Uber drivers retaliating by torching a metered taxi and throwing stones at any metered taxi they came across. Metered taxi drivers have been against Uber operating in South Africa, saying that their low fares were taking away their clients.
"Despite ongoing discussions with regulators and policy makers, most recently with the Police Ministry on 27 July 2017, there has been over 200 recorded incidents against driver-partners since the July meeting, and still no meaningful intervention or arrests have been made," Uber said.
"Thousands of driver-partners choose to use the Uber app to connect with their passengers in order to provide transport services because they are completely free to choose if, when and where they drive, with no shifts or minimum hours."
The transport company said that their driver-partners wanted to exercise their freedom to do their jobs and earn a living for their families, without fear of intimidation and violence by some metered taxi operators, however the authorities and regulators whose responsibility was to protect citizens had not taken sufficient action.
“We are doing all we can to assist in preventing incidents and provide support to driver-partners and riders. We spend millions of rands on private security for driver-partners, but the fact is, we cannot and we should not replace law enforcement’s mandate to protect our citizens. Government and police need to step in and take a much stronger stand to end this violence and intimidation against those bringing progress and choice in the industry,” said Lits.