Gauteng transport brings mediator on board in e-hailing dispute

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Gauteng’s Department of Roads and Transport has finally stepped in to resolve the dispute between e-hailing operators Uber and Bolt and their driver partners, appointing a mediator to handle the situation.

This follows protests in March, when hundreds of e-hailing driver partners descended on the offices of the provincial roads and transport department to urge it to intervene over the terms of their employment.

The protest came after a meeting was held in October 2020 with the department, various e-hailing governing bodies and government stakeholders, to bring to light several challenges faced by e-hailing drivers and operators in the sector.

Among their key complaints listed in a memorandum delivered to the MEC’s office at the time, was exploitation, low wages, safety issues and the urgent need for regulation of the sector.

In a statement issued yesterday, the provincial roads department says the appointment of a professionally trained mediator was agreed to by all parties concerned because of the complexity of the situation.

According to the department, Jenine Khan, an advocate specialising in civil litigation, with an interest in alternative dispute resolution, will lead the negotiations between the two companies and their driver partners.

In addition, the mediator is tasked with ensuring peace and stability between the metered-taxi industry and e-hailing operators. Advocate Khan will be expected to engage with metered-taxi operators to ensure their issues are also attended to and that there is harmony in their operations along with the e-hailing service.

Commenting on the mediation process, public transport and roads infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo says: “I am confident that advocate Khan is the right person for this important task. She comes with the requisite skills and experience that we believe should help us move the process forward. As the department, we will give her all the support and we urge all parties to do the same in assisting her in the work she will be undertaking.”

The department states it has prioritised negotiations and engagements as preferred mechanisms of dispute resolution and, therefore, discourages the use of violence and lawlessness.

Says Mamabolo: “The e-hailing industry is an important mode in the public transport mix, and as such, the provincial government has taken a direct interest in the resolution of these and related issues. We continue to call for all stakeholders to follow the principle of negotiation when trying to resolve problems.”

Upon the completion of her task, Khan will hand over a report to MEC Mamabolo.

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