Uber Eats has temporarily halted food delivery services in certain parts of Soweto, due to ongoing concerns surrounding the safety of its delivery people.
According to a statement, from 5 September, Uber Eats deliveries in 11 areas will not be available.
The areas are: Meadowlands hostel, Dube hostel, Diepkloof hostel, Emdeni South, Mzimhlope, Zola, Pimville, Peenyvile, Noordgesig, Dobsonville and Davelin.
The food delivery app says it was forced to take the decision after engaging rigorously with its delivery partners, through roundtables and surveys, to better understand the realities they face on the ground when it comes to safety.
“Based on these insights, we therefore had to make the tough decision to put a pause on these areas for delivery services by way of the Uber Eats app,” says Charles Mhango, head of operations for Uber Eats SSA.
“Merchants in these areas continue to be fully operational on the Uber Eats app and eaters can still place their orders; however, these are limited to pick-up due to the delivery service being temporarily closed.”
According to Mhango, Uber Eats couriers face unique challenges on the road, especially those on two wheeled-vehicles.
Some of the merchants affected fall under the fast food, convenience and alcohol categories.
Couriers of Uber Eats and Mr D Food previously told ITWeb they lived in fear as a result of the increasing robbery incidents targeting them. Some noted they had lost their motorbikes due to hijackings.
Uber Eats says it has introduced various safety features tailored to its couriers, made available via the app.
These include a helmet detection and safety checklist, the emergency contacts feature and emergency button, which dispatches private security to the delivery person in the event of an incident.
“We also have Partner Injury Protection provided by AIG Insurance to help support delivery people with the costs associated with injury while on a trip. We hope that as safety interventions get introduced in the market, the environment may improve so that deliveries could be reinstated in these areas,” notes Mhango.