The commercial drivers of Nigeria’s leading e-taxi companies, Bolt and Uber commenced a strike on Monday to demand an upward revision of the fares paid by the service. However, Bolt has maintained that its pricing structure is favorable to drivers who use the app.
Bolt’s Country Manager, Femi Akin-Laguda, told PREMIUM TIMES in an automated statement that the company values its drivers and is dedicated to their overall socio-economic well-being.
“We invest the effort to collect, track and analyze the net revenues and total expenses of drivers utilizing our platform. This includes analyzing net earnings per hour on the platform across all cities we operate in,” said Mr. Akin-Laguda.
“We invest in marketing incentives to boost drivers’ revenues. We also collect and track all other expenses incidental to the ride-hailing services provided – these include but are not limited to vehicle leasing/installment costs, fuel, car wash, airtime, and internet bundles. This analysis forms a significant part of our pricing strategy in every city,” Mr. Akin-Laguda said.
On Monday, Bolt and Uber drivers banded together under the umbrella of the Skilled E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association (PEDPA) to demand an increase in the service’s fares.
PEDPA national president Idris Shonuga said on a radio program on Monday that it’s unfortunate that drivers can’t set their own rates for their transportation services.
“It is quite unfortunate with all these humongous responsibilities embedded in our service, we don’t have a say in the price of our service. We are telling Uber and Bolt that this is wrong. The price is ‘ridiculously low’ which is not part of our agreement, our initial agreement was N90 per kilometer, N10 per minute when fuel was at 95 per liter in 2015, not the new price of N60 per kilometer made without our consent,” Mr. Shonuga said.
Mr. Akin-Laguda said in his statement that Bolt will continue to treat its drivers with respect and maintain an open-door policy for reviews, suggestions and comments.
“We have various communication and support channels that are always available for drivers on the platform to reach us at any time, any day, and for any issue that may affect their operations,” he said.
On the flip side, a bolt driver in Abuja relayed to AEC Quarterly that he had no issue with the present fare as he utilizes a strategy to earn better on Bolt. However, he noted that those who drive within the Abuja Municipal areas don’t earn much and frequently complain because of the rates. He emphasized that he gains principally from the connection to clients by Bolt who then employs his service offline.
Several other drivers, however, decried the deplorable pricing system of the e-hailing companies describing it as modern economic slavery. They lamented the frequent dangers drivers face from criminals that has cost many drivers their lives without any compensation plan for their families. The drivers are seeking a seat on the table with the companies with regards to price determination.
A spokesperson for Uber also told TechCabal via email, ““We are aware of a protest taking place today by a small group of e-hailing drivers, resulting in slightly longer waiting times for riders. We respect driver-partners as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want them to know that we are always open to their feedback.”
“It’s however important to note that diver-partners are diverse in how they use the Uber app and it would be difficult for an individual or group to holistically represent every driver on the app.”
“We have various communication and support channels that are always available for drivers on the platform to reach us at any time, any day and for any issue that may affect their operations,” he said.
The strike has caused some delays in getting drivers on the app. There is an increased demand for drivers due to the scarcity as PEDPA continues to mobilize its members to shun the apps.