Gauteng and e-hailing driver-partners to tackle top priority issues

Government and e-hailing parties have agreed to focus on priority issues, among others security, pricing and fare structuring.

 E-hailers protest outside the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition to address challenges in their sector. Photo: Reitumetse Mahope

Common ground seem to have been reached between the Gauteng transport department and the drivers of e-hailing services.

A meeting held between the two parties on Monday agreed to focus on a list of priority issues that would be addressed and finalised by the end of June 2022.

Gauteng transport MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, together with the head of the department, Dr Darion Barclay, met with Unity in Diversity (UID), an action group representing e-hailing driver partners, on Monday.

Mamabolo in a joint statement with UID said the top priority issues to be resolved through a mediation process included matters pertaining to security, pricing and fare structuring, downgrading of vehicles of driver partners on e-hailing platforms as well as the creation of a consultative forum between e-hailing companies and the driver partners.

He said the purpose of the meeting was to obtain feedback from UID on whether it would continue to participate in the mediation process following a meeting of the parties which took place on Monday, last week.

“The parties once again had a productive and successful engagement where they agreed that the department will host a consultative workshop with e-hailing driver partners where various issues raised by the driver partners will be discussed further.”

The Gauteng department of roads and transport and unity in diversity (e-hailing driver-partners). Photo: Supplied

UID is an action group representing several e-hailing driver-partners, which include owner-drivers, owners and drivers of e-hailing vehicles such as Uber SA, Bolt SA, Indriver and DiDi.

Meetings with e-hailers and government are as a result of commuters recently being left stranded nationally as a result of protest action.

Last week, hundreds of e-hailing service operators gathered at the Marabastad old Putco depot near the Pretoria CBD to protest against government regulation of their industry taking too long.

The protest lasted for three days.

E-hailers protest to address challenges in their sector. Photo: Reitumetse Mahope

Dese, the acting chief co-ordinator of the strike in Tshwane, said the transport minister had been non-responsive to industry calls to engage the sector.

“He has no appetite to resolve industry problems,” Dese said.

She said the sector started engaging the department back in 2016. They have reached out to the minister including the submission of two memorandums, yet received no response.

“Further, the mediation process initiated by Mamabolo, on May 26, 2021, failed dismally, however the industry was not advised as to why the initiative failed.”

Dese said that e-hailing services were not happy with the government, which had delayed talks while legislation to regulate e-hailing services was awaiting approval.

She said the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the DTIC), which registered the companies, had operations that encroached onto the transportation space.

“The DTIC must have mechanisms in place to prohibit unfair business practices. Further, the app companies should stop the practice of determining prices on behalf of operators.”

Dese said the uneconomic prices had to be abolished to enhance the sustainable business of operators and owners to also encourage competition and new business entity entry into the sector.

“The DTIC has a mandate to create a fair regulatory environment that enables investment, trade and enterprise development in an equitable and socially responsible manner.”

Dese said there were serious safety concerns to both drivers and riders.

E-hailers protest to address challenges in their sector. Photo: Reitumetse Mahope

She added that robberies, hijackings and intimidation were constantly reported to police – to no effect.

“Many drivers have perished in the line of duty and there is no real compensation for their immediate families. The companies are not accountable.”

Dese said members demanded online insurance as the on-trip insurance was far from being adequate.

She said members called for adequate security features to be put in place such as monitored dash cameras and passenger seat cameras.

“We are calling on the government to attend to our grievances. We need to find out how these app services are registered and regulated in our country,” said Dese.

She said it was unfair that the drivers operating these e-hailing services continued to suffer.

E-hailers delivered their memorandum to the DTI representative Labeeqah Schuurman.

Read original story on rekord.co.za