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Uber drivers intimidated & harassed in JHB

Meter taxi drivers are unhappy they have to share the same routes in Sandton and other major areas.

Uber taxi. Picture: Uber.com
Uber,Uber taxi service app,Uber petition,Meter taxi
Local Business

JOHANNESBURG - Uber says its drivers are being intimidated and harassed by meter taxi drivers who are unhappy that they have to share the same routes in Sandton and other major areas.

An illegal protest was held outside Uber's offices in Johannesburg on Friday by metered taxi drivers.

Uber says it's aware of a number of similar incidents and the metered taxi drivers have made it clear that they don’t want to share the routes.

Uber’s Alon Litz says there has been an escalation in intimidation from metered taxi drivers lately.

“We are in constant communication with the drivers assuring them that their safety is our number one priority. We're looking into ways to reduce cases of intimidation.”

He says Uber is concerned about the safety of its drivers and has appealed to the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) for protection.

“It’s not an environment where it’s about Uber or taxi. It’s about Uber and taxi and how can we find a way to co-exist.”

Uber says it has tried to work with the metered taxi associations since the beginning of the year, but its drivers are still being intimidated and harassed.

Litz says the metered taxi drivers are reluctant to work with the new system despite the opportunities the platform offers.

“We have an open platform. There is a number of existing meter taxi operators.”

He says Uber has created hundreds of jobs in the country and has continued to try and engage associations and unions.

Metro police have appealed to drivers to report any incidents of intimidation assuring them that these claims will be investigated.

WITNESS ACCOUNT

A Johannesburg couple told Eyewitness News how they watched metered taxi drivers harass an Uber driver and threaten him with a gun.

Melinda Bason says her Uber driver was too scared to pick her up from Sandton after being harassed by the metered taxi drivers on Saturday saying it was not the first time.

“They grabbed the keys from the ignition, intimidating him. There was a gun involved and intimidation with that weapon.”

She says while the driver tried to leave and pick them up a street away, the metered taxi drivers turned on her and her husband.

“They were screaming that they were taking away business from South Africa and Uber must go back to Germany.”

She says they then reported the incident to the nearby metro police, but the officers on duty were disinterested and made no effort to help the Uber drivers.

Bason says the metered taxi drivers made their intentions clear.

“We are the meter taxi guys; you are not part of the public transport committee. You shouldn’t have the right to operate here.”

While JMPD spokesperson Edna Mamonyane says she is unaware of the incident.

She says any report of negligence from metro police will be investigated and dealt with.  

People echoed Bason on social media reporting similar incidents of intimidation of Uber drivers in other areas.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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