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Uber says it will engage Gauteng drivers over fare increase demands

File Photo: Paballo Thekiso

File Photo: Paballo Thekiso

Published Jul 20, 2022


Pretoria - Following recent protests from drivers using the Uber platform demanding a fare increase due to rising fuel prices in the country, the e-hailing company said it would engage drivers soon.

Uber said it took the economics of running a business seriously and would engage drivers to address the issues.

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The company said in December 2021 and March 2022, it increased fares due to recent spike in operating costs and the sharp increase in the price of fuel.

But drivers dispute that Uber has increased its fares in the past months, saying the company only increased the minimum fee payable for a ride in March.

Drivers are complaining that they are driving more for less pay, despite the significant increase in fuel prices, which has seen 95 unleaded petrol rocket from under R20 per litre in January, to over R26 per litre in July.

An Uber spokesperson said to IOL by email: “We continue to monitor driver earnings closely, especially considering seasonality and the macro environment influences such as fuel prices. Our commitment to drivers is to continuously find ways of maximising their earning potential while meeting the needs of the riders.”

Last week Friday, scores of Uber drivers in Gauteng embarked in picket action and had a heated meeting with senior Uber officials at the e-hailing company’s offices in Sandton demanding fare increases.

Drivers also complained about the lack of communication from the company especially when it comes to implementing changes.

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However, the company said they run regular round-table discussions both in-person and virtually with drivers. The feedback sessions takes place on a bi-weekly and monthly basis.

“These sessions represent a diverse range of drivers, helping to ensure Uber understands the concerns of drivers across a broad spectrum. In addition, we proactively call drivers to gauge their sentiment and to collect feedback on a daily basis through our in-app Driver Satisfaction survey.”

Drivers also demanded that a recently launched trip request function called trip radar be scrapped.

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Drivers said they were concerned about trip radar as it was a system that was designed in a way where drivers had to fight for the same rider.

Under trip radar, a rider flashes on multiple drivers screens at once, with the driver with the fastest reaction getting the trip.

Drivers complain saying that trip radar could cause accidents and will force them to focus on their phones, constantly.

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The e-hailing company said they introduced Trip Radar so that drivers have even more choice and control.

“Trip requests have not changed and still go to the nearest driver first. It’s only if they don’t accept it that it goes onto Trip Radar so all other drivers nearby can see it and take it if they want (on a first-come first-served basis).

“The biggest benefit for both riders and drivers is getting matched quicker. Drivers also benefit from more transparency around what’s available nearby to enable them to make more informed decisions,” said the Uber spokesperson.

The company added that with Trip Radar, drivers are also able to see additional UberX and UberGo requests happening nearby.

“Trip Radar merely shows extra options — drivers will continue to get individual requests. This option also allows drivers to get trip requests that go in a specific direction to ensure they are heading where they need to.”

However, for now, Uber has temporarily paused the Trip Radar functionality to allow for more engagement with drivers.