- Gauteng-based e-hailing partner drivers say their working relationship with Uber and Bolt is now “hopeless” after mediation meetings last week.
- Drivers want Uber and Bolt to cut their commission from 25% to 10%, and want them to stop dynamic pricing.
- Bolt’s SA manager says the drivers’ demands would result in fee increases of up to 80%, which will choke the market.
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Gauteng’s e-hailing partner drivers have slammed their working relationship with Uber and Bolt as “hopeless”, saying last week’s mediation meetings facilitated by the provincial government failed to address their concerns.
This is according to a memo prepared by driver representatives following the meetings, which TIF News has seen. The e-hailing drivers say they feel stonewalled after the platforms declined all of their demands aimed at boosting drivers’ income.
The Gauteng provincial government arranged the meetings between the drivers in Gauteng and Uber and Bolt. The meetings were supposed to address driver concerns, particularly the pricing models of platforms that drivers say do not give them enough income.
The Gauteng E-Hailing Partners Council (GEPCO) met with Bolt on Thursday, and with Uber on Friday. The drivers want Uber to lower its commission of 25%, charge on all rides. Failing that, drivers will settle for price hikes to boost income.
GEPCO also demanded that Uber disband its dynamic pricing system and reinstate the initial setup, which comprised a base fare and minimum fare within a 3km radius, and per-kilometre and per-minute charges beyond the 3km radius.
Uber said it would not change its dynamic pricing system, and GEPCO claims the company refused to reveal its pricing figures.
Bolt SA manager Takura Malaba said the company does not have dynamic pricing on its platform, but rather surge pricing, where prices can only increase.
“This occurs where passenger demand is high and there are not enough drivers to meet this demand. Surge pricing is meant to attract more drivers, therefore balancing the high demand. More people will choose to ride with Bolt if the fares are affordable, which means that drivers have more opportunities to earn money,” Malaba said.
GEPCO also demanded that the commission charged to partner drivers be reduced to 10%. Both Uber and Bolt said if they reduced their commission, the companies would run at a loss.
“The GEPCO team did everything possible to highlight the challenges faced by drivers based on experience, supporting evidence and scientific calculations and the deductive analysis of mediation outcomes is further evidence that there is no partnership in place between App companies and Drivers and Owners,” the group’s leaders said in a memo.
“Decisions are taken unilaterally by app companies and drivers and owners’ inputs are not considered at all,” the memo read.
The GEPCO memo said the relationship between operators and app companies was “hopeless”, adding that the time had come to move towards “defined and recognised partnership by transforming the industry”.
The memo said that while further mediation was set from 26 to 30 October, nothing was achieved, leaving partner drivers reluctant to participate further. It said a mass meeting will be convened in early September to chart the way forward ahead of continued mediation.
Bolt’s Malaba said the proposals put forward by GEPCO were extreme with proposed increases of between 60% and 80% and further higher increases elsewhere. He said these increases in a price-sensitive market will result in immediate reduction in passenger use, and “far less opportunities for drivers to earn money”.
Uber said it implemented several fare increases this year alone, with the latest increase being announced this past July.
“We recognise the pressures drivers are under, including the increasing cost of living. It’s important to understand that fares do fluctuate as a normal part of any business based on various factors such as seasonality and the macroeconomic environment.
“Recently, we have seen driver earnings begin to recover in South Africa and we are constantly looking for ways of helping drivers increase their earnings on the platform while providing riders with more cost-effective options of moving around,” Uber said in an email to TIF News.