On Wednesday afternoon, e-hailing drivers who are linked with the ride-sharing service, Uber, caused significant traffic delays during a protest on Johannesburg’s M1 highway. The drivers were operating rental cars provided by Uber partner, Moove, and drove them slowly in protest, starting in Sandton and continuing to Fourways. Johannesburg metro police spokesperson, Xolani Fihla stated that it was difficult to track the protest as the drivers were moving. He added that the delays were severe in Sandton, but the drivers had since moved on to Fourways.
Details surrounding the protest are unclear, Uber spokesperson, Zweli Ngwenya, denied that it involved the ride-hailing platform’s drivers. Although the cars used in the protest are identifiable as Toyota Agya’s that are typically used by Uber drivers. Ngwenya explained that the protesting drivers were affiliated with Moove, a company that rents out vehicles to Uber-registered drivers. The organisers of the protest have not commented on the issue, but reports indicate that the drivers were demonstrating against Moove, which has been accused of charging high rental rates for its cars.
The protest is just the latest in a series of demonstrations by ride-sharing drivers worldwide who have been protesting against their working conditions, low pay, and lack of benefits. However, whether the Moove-affiliated drivers have specific grievances with the rental company or if the move is part of a broader movement is unclear.
The incident is likely to raise further questions about the gig economy, with many drivers feeling that they are being exploited by companies like Uber and Moove. In recent years, there have been calls for better pay and benefits for gig economy workers, but progress has been slow. The ongoing tensions between ride-sharing drivers and the companies they work for have been ongoing for months, and it is likely that we will see more demonstrations.
Uber’s reputation in South Africa has been faced with a number of challenges in recent years. The company has been accused of flouting local laws and regulations, and it has also faced protests from taxi drivers who feel that the platform is taking their business. As a result, Uber’s relationship with South African drivers has been fraught with tension, and the latest protests are likely to stir more crisis for the company.
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