Uber, Bolt, Didi and other ride share drivers demand regulation

Looking to get a ride from a ride sharing service this week? You may find yourself struggling as drivers from apps such as Uber, Bolt and others have declared they will be switching off their apps starting today.

Drivers affiliated with the Private Public Transport Association (PPTA) plan to disrupt major traffic routes and so-called “critical institutions” as part of a three day strike according to a report from MyBroadband.

Why are drivers striking? Quite simply, drivers are fed up with the wild west that is the unregulated ride sharing industry.

“We are not happy with the state of ehailing in the country. We are not happy with the manner in which app companies are treating us. We are not happy with the pricing. We’re not happy with the oversaturation of the market but most importantly, we are not happy with the fact that government has not shown itself in defence of its people and protection of its people,” founder of the PPTA, Vhatuka Mbelengwa told eNCA in an interview at the weekend.

Today, drivers from a variety of apps will be heading to the Union Buildings in Pretoria as well as the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, also located in the capital city.

The PPTA is seemingly fed up with the way in which ride sharing platform owners treat their driver partners. Not only are app owners slow to address matters such as the ever increasing fuel price, they are infamously difficult to work with owing to the fact that decisions often have to come from a head office located in the US.

As we speak, drivers face exploitation from fleet operators who rent vehicles to drivers at exorbitant rates. While the likes of Uber say they will be addressing this situation, we have to wonder when it will be addressed.

The association wants government to draw a hard line as regards ride sharing in South Africa but that is a process that will likely take a few months. Much like in other countries, drivers in South Africa don’t feel like partners in ride sharing with PPTA arguing that the definitions of the company and drivers change on a dim depending on who the platform operator is speaking to.

While this may become an inconvenience for riders, this strike action is necessary to address the issues that have crept in over the years. Of course, should government agree to regulate the ride sharing industry, that process won’t happen overnight and we have to think that stakeholders such as Uber, Bolt and others will have comments to make.

Ride sharing is useful, but if that usefulness comes at the detriment to one of the parties, then that’s something to be addressed. Ride sharing companies are yet to comment on the strike action.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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