Editor's note: On Monday 13 March 2013, Uber alerted eNCA to the fact that a meeting is not scheduled to take place with disgruntled drivers, as reported below by the African News Agency. Uber's Samantha Allenberg went on to sa, “We are deeply committed to the safety of both riders and drivers and we have a dedicated team working 24/7 in South Africa to support our commitment to safety, and we are always looking for ways to improve. Our technology makes it possible to focus on safety for drivers (and riders) before, during, and after every trip in ways that simply were not possible before smartphones. We respect driver-partners as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want driver-partners to feel they can talk to us about anything at any time, but the sentiment of this small group do not represent those of the 4 000 plus driver-partners that use the Uber app across South Africa. Driver-partners have a number of ways they can speak to Uber about their individual concerns, our partner support team operates 24/7. Uber is always talking with partners and taking their feedback on board - Uber succeeds when our partners succeed”
JOHANNESBURG – A meeting between disgruntled Uber drivers and management has been set for next week after drivers protested outside the company’s Johannesburg offices, demanding that their concerns be addressed immediately.
Police mediated between the drivers and Uber after management shut down offices and refused to meet with the group gathered outside along 7th Avenue in Parktown North.
“With the help of the police, we were able to secure a meeting set for next week Tuesday at Zoo Lake. No Uber representation came out to see us. Police had to call them in order to resolve this impasse,” said the group’s spokeswoman Teresa Munchick.
Armed guards with rifles guarded the Uber office, no one was allowed to enter the premises.
Dressed in T-shirts written “The Movement- #uberdriverssa” drivers demanded a meeting with management to address their concerns, especially safety. Munchick said the forum for the drivers was formed last year after one of them was attacked, hijacked and killed while waiting at the airport.
“Our guys are beaten everyday, Uber says there’s protection and security but there’s none … I can take you to Park Station now to see for yourself,” she said.
“Drivers have been hijacked especially since the cash option was implemented … people do not go look out for Uber, they can just order a taxi and attack the driver just like that.”
The Uber drivers’ action came around the same time as metered taxi drivers were blocking access to the OR Tambo International Airport in protests against rival Uber. As a result of the blockade motorists were stuck for hours along the R21, the surrounding N12 and R24.
Metered taxi operators blocked the roads, accusing Uber of unfairly taking away market share because they do not have to register for operating licences.
Metered taxi operators are also demanding that Uber, the ride sharing app service, be stopped from operating in South Africa.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters condemned the actions of metered taxi drivers.
"It is unfortunate that some meter taxi operators will resort to anarchy, whilst the Department of Transport is in the process of responding to their memorandum in consultation with the leadership of the meter taxi associations and the relevant provincial authorities," she said in a statement.
African News Agency