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Uber SA's petition to govt garners over 40 000 supporters

Uber SA's petition to govt garners over 40 000 supporters

The online petition started by Uber South Africa last week after violence flared up once again between the ride hailing services partner drivers and meter taxi drivers has now garnered more than 42 000 signatures.

Uber says the petition will be delivered to South Africa's ministry of transport the moment it reaches a total of 50 0000 signatures.

In the petition, which is being promoted through social media, the company accuses the government of failing to ensure the safety of its drivers and passengers.

"The Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula have made a number of statements that they denounced acts of violence, torching of vehicles and intimidation. However little has been done to stop this criminal activity, and some metered taxi operators continue their violent acts in an effort to dictate how the citizens of Johannesburg choose to move around their city," explains Uber in its motivation for signatures from by members of the public.

Uber also alleges that despite a number of discussions it has had with South Africa's regulators and policymakers, including the police ministry, "there has been over 200 recorded incidents against driver-partners since the July (2017) meetings, and still no meaningful interventions or arrests have been made."

Passing the buck

While Uber has repeated its call for police to intervene through tweets in the last 24 hours, following reports of more threats to drivers and passengers in Pretoria, the country's ministry of tourism has since issued a statement expressing concern over the recurring incidents.

Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism says she is distressed about the potential negative effect of the acrimony on the tourism industry.

"For any domestic or international tourist, the sense of security is as important as the ordinary citizen. However, both the metre taxicab and Uber operators need to bear in mind the fact that whereas as citizens, our relationship with South Africa is not one of choice, tourists can elect to visit one place and not another and one country instead of another."

The Minister adds that urgent dialogue between Uber and metered taxi operators is the best way to find lasting solutions to their disagreements.

Herman Mashaba, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, sent out a tweet last week placing the responsibility to end the violence in the hands of those at higher levels of the South African government.

"The Uber/Meter taxi matter is unfortunately outside my direct jurisdiction. We hope the Provincial structures will appropriately handle(it)."

Uber South Africa's petition places the responsibility to quell the violence with the government as it has proven to be very costly for it to do this on its own.

"We continue to do all we can to assist in preventing incidents, spending millions of rands on private security for driver-partners. However, we are not law enforcement, and government and police need to step in and take a stronger stand to end this violence and intimidation against those bringing progress and choice in the industry."

While opposition to Uber by metered taxi drivers is not unique to Johannesburg, it appears to have died down in other cities around the world including Paris and Rome.

Violent episodes have been an even rarer occurrence in the rest of Africa, with Uber's competitor Taxify announcing last week that it is launching into a second Kenyan city.

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