E-hailing drivers from prominent platforms, Uber and Bolt, have initiated a significant protest, voicing their concerns over recent changes in the ride-hailing industry. One of the primary points of contention is Uber’s “Trip Radar” feature. Introduced in July 2022, this feature provides drivers with insights into how many of their peers are viewing a trip on offer. While Uber claims that the Trip Radar aims to reduce rider wait times, drivers argue that it diverts their attention from the road and fosters unnecessary competition in an already saturated market.
Furthermore, the introduction of the Bajaj Qute vehicles by Bolt has stirred controversy. These vehicles, known for their compact size and cost-efficiency, have been offered at significantly discounted rates, making them a preferred choice for riders. This shift poses a challenge for sedan drivers, as they face stiff competition from the more affordable Bajaj rides.
The e-Hailing Partners Council (EPC), a non-profit organization representing drivers, has expressed its dissatisfaction with the responses from both Uber and Bolt. The council has highlighted several concerns, including the Trip Radar feature, the inclusion of Bajaj vehicles, and issues related to pricing and passenger screening. The EPC’s statement emphasizes that the companies’ justifications for these changes are not in the best interest of the drivers.
Adding to the drivers’ grievances, the recent partnership between Uber Eats and the Gauteng government has also been a topic of debate. The initiative, aimed at digitizing township businesses, is expected to generate over R500 million in value for Gauteng over the next three years. However, drivers are apprehensive about the potential impact on existing operators.
In response to the ongoing protests, both Uber and Bolt have provided detailed explanations. Uber defended its Trip Radar feature, stating that it offers more options for drivers and reduces idle times. Bolt, on the other hand, emphasized its commitment to enhancing earning opportunities for drivers, especially during challenging economic times.
As the protests gain momentum, riders in Gauteng are advised to seek alternative transportation methods. The EPC has hinted that the protests might extend beyond just one day, urging even InDrive drivers to join the cause. With picketing planned at various locations, including Randburg and Kramerville, the upcoming days might see a significant disruption in e-hailing services in Gauteng.