UPDATE: Uber calls on SA to end taxi violence

2017-09-12 15:33 - Kavitha Pillay
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Johannesburg — Uber South Africa expressed disappointed with authorities for what it calls "a weak response to violence" by metered taxi drivers who fear they are losing business to the global ride-hailing app, according to Associated Press (AP).

This, after two Uber cars were set alight on Thursday 7 September, in an ongoing fight between Uber drivers and metered taxis.

In News24's latest update, metered taxi drivers say they are willing to lay down their lives to prevent Uber drivers from invading "their territory".

SEE: Twitter reacts: Escalated Uber and metered taxis battle

Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, says the company was extremely disappointed that the violence against Uber driver-partners continued unabated and those policy makers were blaming the violent behaviour on a "turf war", with over 200 recorded incidents against driver-partners since July, and still no meaningful interventions or arrests have been made.

According to AP, Uber says in a statement on Tuesday 12 September, that the transport department focuses on alleged retaliation by its drivers even though "there is little proof that these are e-hailing operators."

Increase in petition numbers as Uber calls on government and police to "step in"

Uber SA says that driver-partners using the app want to exercise their freedom to do their jobs and earn a living for their families without fear of intimidation and violence, but "the authorities and regulators whose responsibility it is to protect the citizens of this country and their consumer choice, are not taking firm enough action against violent criminals, and the violence against drivers choosing technology apps such as Uber continues unabated".

Following the incident, Uber launched a petition calling on Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to take action following the recent spate of attacks against Uber driver-partners.

SEE: Govt says taxi violence threatens tourism industry

"Government and police need to step in and take a stronger stand to end this violence and intimidation," says Team Uber SA, encouraging the public to sign the petition, share it on Facebook and "make your voice heard" to ensure that "driver-partners can continue to earn a living without fear and consumers can choose who they travel with".

The petition on Change.org currently has 37 136 supporters by Tuesday at 15:00, having increased by over 9 000 supporters from 10:00 on Monday, 11 September - proving the extent to which the public is in support of Uber, for drivers' and commuters' safety.

Taxi violence threatens tourism 

On Monday, SA's Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said that the violence between metered taxi drivers and Uber-affiliated drivers is threatening the country's tourism industry.

“In addition to the needless destruction of property and threat on human life, the general mood of uncertainty implicit in the violence threatens the stability of the tourism industry on which thousands of jobs are reliant,” says Xasa, adding that security is important for domestic or international tourists as much as for local citizens. She encouraged the transport operators "to find lasting solutions to their disagreements".

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