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Drivers: Uber head office won't assist with reports of intimidation

Some Uber drivers have told EWN of the continuous intimidation they face from meter taxi drivers.

FILE: The online ride-hailing service Uber. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Uber.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police say several incidents have been reported to them in recent months by Uber drivers seeking protection from meter taxi drivers.

Some Uber drivers have told Eyewitness News of the continuous intimidation they face while trying to do their jobs, particularly in the vicinity of the Park Station Gautrain station.

They claim the Uber head office won't help them.

The police’s Xoli Mbele says the most recent incident was last month where an Uber driver was stopped and then mugged by three men who said they were meter taxi operators in the Johannesburg CBD.

A group of drivers, who have asked to remain anonymous, say they face intimidation, particularly around the Park Station area.

One driver says, “Once you get there it's either they shoot you or they smash your car. What I am asking myself is, is it safe for us to work for Uber and support people, or what is going to happen to us?”

Another says he has been forced to use alternative routes when picking up his clients.

“When I have to drive through Wolmarans Street, I drive toward the other side on Bree Street, that’s where I pick up my clients.”

Uber says it is open to discussing possible partnerships with meter taxi drivers around the Park Station area.

The company says it has encouraged drivers to make use of their emergency helpline in case they are in dangerous situations.

“Pick-ups and drop-offs at Park Station continue as per normal. There is a security solution in place at Park Station to ensure riders have access to safe pick-up points close to the Gautrain station,” says Uber managing director Alon Lits.

Meanwhile, customers say this apparent war with meter taxi drivers has become frustrating.

Since the launch of the driving service in the country in 2013, there has been widespread conflict between its drivers and meter taxi operators.

(Edited by Neo Koza)