‘That would be thuggery’ – National Taxi Alliance on e-hailing protection payments

A body overseeing minibus taxi associations has distanced itself from affiliates demanding money from e-hailing drivers.

A taxi association in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was recently reported to be demanding a R600 fee from Uber and Bolt drivers as a protection payment to operate along their routes.

The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said it does not approve of the practice and Uber has clarified that their safety features would make additional payments unnecessary.

All parties against intimidation

The Citizen approached the NTA to clarify their stance on protection fees with spokesperson Theo Malele saying, “That would be thuggery. I can’t imagine such a narrative doing the rounds. It has never been a directive of the NTA.”

ALSO READ: Increasingly ‘broken’ Uber in South Africa points to market failure

Responding to questions asked by The Citizen about being forced to pay protection fees, Uber’s media team said they were against violence and underhanded tactics in all forms.

“We take incidents of intimidation seriously as the safety and wellbeing of drivers using the Uber platform is a top priority to us,” said Uber via their media team.

“Technology has made it possible for Uber to focus on safety for riders and drivers before, during, and after every trip in ways that simply were not possible before smartphones,” they added.

Uber safety features

Initial reports came from the North-Coast Courier which reported how e-hailing drivers were having their work impacted in Ballito.

The ride-sharing giant elaborated on how they hold frequent discussions with drivers to address challenges and offer in-app support.

ALSO READ: Uber accident victim takes legal battle to Europe

Safety features developed in recent years for drivers and customers include an emergency assistance button, injury protection cover, remote ride check and audio recordings as an opt-in feature.  

In-house e-hailing app

Together with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and their Gauteng branch, the NTA launched their e-hailing service called ‘Shesha’ in April.

“Shesha brokered a historic MOU(memorandum of understanding) between the taxi industry and e-hailing industry in Gauteng, bringing an end to the low-level conflict between the two industries,” a Shesha spokesperson told The Citizen.

“Ongoing consultations between senior Shesha operational staff and regional e-hailing representatives are aimed at ensuring that everyone gets the memo,” she added.

Part of the launch included the establishment of the Gauteng e-hailing Services Trust which grants benefits to drivers who choose to work exclusively for Shesha.

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