Uber responds to driver protests

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Meter-cab taxi drivers are protesting against Uber in SA.
Meter-cab taxi drivers are protesting against Uber in SA.

In a tough week globally, Uber is also having problems locally.

Traditional meter-cab taxi drivers are protesting against Uber being available in SA, saying the alternative app-based taxi service is eating away at their profits.

The meter-cab taxi drivers are barricading highways that lead to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg ? where Uber is commonly used.

Uber South Africa says the airport situation is being handled by the relevant authorities.

The company also says: "Our technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their chances for profit.

"In fact, many metered taxi drivers are already using our technology to boost their incomes and we would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues. We do not feel it should be about Uber or taxi but rather Uber and taxi.

"The threats and intimidation against those who want to use Uber to boost their income is unacceptable. Today's protest only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable alternatives like Uber," says Uber.

Some Uber driver-partners are also protesting outside Uber offices, saying the company is not doing enough to protect them and their cars.

Uber says: "The sentiment of these dozen or so people do not reflect those of the 4 000+ driver-partners using the app across South Africa.

"Driver-partners have a number of ways they can speak to us about their individual concerns; our partner support team operates 24/7."

About the possible threats against Uber drivers, the company says it recently announced a partnership with multiple security companies that gives the drivers a number they can call when they feel unsafe.

These new partnerships will see security and medical services dispatched in emergency situations in a reduced time.

Globally, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick this week said the firm is looking for a chief operating officer to help run the company, which has been battered by a series of damning revelations about its culture and business tactics.

Reuters reported that a series of events (including reports of sexual harassment) has brought Uber's practices and Kalanick's leadership into doubt, fuelling customer backlash and raising investor concern.

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