Uber, Bolt drivers in Abuja may go on strike over fare charges, conditions


Drivers, under the e-hailing platforms for Uber and Bolt, in Abuja may embark on strike over unfavourable fare charges and conditions

“We are trying to gather the drivers to seek their own opinion and we will now start our warning strike,” Evans Agada, vice president of the National Union of Professional App-based Workers in Abuja, told The Guardian on Sunday.

Evans said the industrial action was necessary to protest the “unfavourable partnership” relationship with the e-hailing companies.

The drivers are pushing for the implementation of better pricing by the dominant app companies, which they say have continued to ignore the impact of the recent petrol price and poor fare charges on trips.

“We insist that you investigate and conduct proper research into these issues of poor fare charges on trips offered to riders in the Abuja FCT,” the drivers said in their letter addressed to Bolt and Uber West Africa general managers.

“Issues such as riders disrespect, terrible road networks, excessive interference of law enforcement agents, high cost of vehicle maintenance, high cost of fuel pump price, inconsiderate waiting for riders has hampered driver partner’s effort to deliver quality service to the riders,” it added.

The drivers demanded that the base price should be increased to one thousand naira, while per kilometres fare rate should be increased to seventy-seven naira and per minute should be seventeen naira.

Until now, drivers on the e-hailing platforms have since complained of unfavourable unethical business practice.

Weeks ago, Uber and Bolt drivers in Lagos threatened to dump the ride-hailing services over the two app providers took unilateral decisions, fixed inequitable commissions for themselves, unhealthy trip fares, and denied them the right to belong to a union.

The driver said that the providers blocked drivers at will without considering their hiring purchase status, showed no empathy to drivers in cases of emergency, loss of lives while on an active trip, and many other lopsided unethical business practices.

Drivers on Uber and bolt platforms are also facing troubles from the Lagos State government. They embarked on a week-strike two weeks ago to protest against some aspects of the new regulations by the state.

The drivers said that the representative of the union was not a party to the agreement reached between operators such as Uber and Bolt, Lagos State and the Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association. A faction of the driver union was present at a meeting where the agreement was reached.

The government announced on August 14 that the new regulations which were to become operational on August 20 have been modified after an initial outcry by the drivers on the burden the regulations will put on them.

“App companies like Uber and Bolt push their responsibility to us,” Ayoade Ibrahim, the National Union of Professional App-Based Workers told The Guardian. “We want to negotiate with Lagos State Government about the regulations and our responsibility.”

For the drivers, one contentious regulation was the service tax to be charged on each trip while the e-hailing operators like Uber and Bolt were to pay up to N25 million license fee and N10 million annually for renewal of the license.

The government would charge N20 per trip and drivers were also given up to 90 days to complete the necessary paperwork.

The driver union said parts of the amended regulations still put heavy burdens on the drivers.