We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

This is why I’m striking – Uber driver explains how petrol hikes have nearly crippled him

04 July 2018 - 06:00 By Ernest Mabuza
Uber drivers are demanding for the company to reduce the 25% it takes from the fares
Uber drivers are demanding for the company to reduce the 25% it takes from the fares
Image: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu. File photo

On Tuesday morning‚ Johannesburg’s streets were quieter as Uber drivers protested – and one driver‚ who was part of the strike‚ explained why he and his colleagues had put on the brakes.

The man‚ who wouldn’t be named for fear of victimisation‚ said that cash was at the heart of the protests‚ thanks largely to the petrol price hike.

“At this time last year‚ after a hard day’s work and after all expenses such as fuel had been paid‚ I could earn R3‚500 weekly.

“Now‚ some weeks‚ drivers are barely getting R500 a week‚” the driver said.

It’s a brutal loss of income that he and his colleagues were no longer able to absorb.

He said the problem he encountered was that the expenses were not fixed‚ such as when he gets a long distance request.

“Nobody pays you to get to the customer‚ or when you come back from a long distance trip‚” he said.

In his case‚ he rents a car from an owner for R2‚000 a week. This includes insurance.

“Add to that the indeterminate petrol costs. You must also factor in the cost of data for all the trips you need to make and the driver must also have food for the usually 12-hour shifts they take. These add up to costs faced by the driver.

“That is why we ask that Uber must reduce the 25% it takes from the fares.”

He was one of the drivers who went to the Uber offices in Johannesburg to hand over a list of demands‚ including that Uber reduce its 25% take of every ride to 15%. The operators described Uber's current share-take as "theft" in their memorandum.

The operators for Uber and Taxify‚ who have the same demands‚ said they would go on a go-slow this week before assembling again on Friday.

In response to the protest‚ Uber said it was committed to doing as much as possible to ensure that Uber remained a meaningful earning opportunity for its partners.