Internet ride-sharing app Uber says a “small number” of its Cape Town drivers have decided to stop partnering with the service amid price decreases of up to 20%.
Uber this week announced it will drop prices from April 7 in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban by up to 20% to boost demand during the quieter winter period.
The company said its price-drops in other global cities such as Lagos have resulted in boosted demand and greater earnings for drivers. Uber said it plans to implement minimum payment guarantees for partner-drivers if the price cuts don’t drive up demand.
But upon hearing about the price cuts earlier this week, about 50 Cape Town Uber drivers stopped working on Wednesday night and headed to the company’s Greenpoint office to demand answers and pose questions.
Subsequently, a number of partner-drivers have further decided to stop transporting passengers using the Uber app, a company official told Fin24 on Friday. The company has not disclosed the exact number of partner-drivers who have stopped using the service.
“Unfortunately a small number of partner-drivers in Cape Town have not heard about our guarantee so have chosen not to use the app for now,” Samantha Allenberg, the head of communications at Uber Africa, said in an emailed statement to Fin24.
“We are trying to speak with them to reassure them of our guarantee,” Allenberg told Fin24.
Uber drivers are not employed by the company but rather partner with the service. This means that the drivers earn a percentage of each fare.
Hijacking in Cape Town
Meanwhile, reports emerged on Thursday night that an Uber passenger witnessed his driver being hijacked by three individuals at Cape Town International Airport. The hijackers reportedly drove off with the Uber driver while the passenger was forced to exit the vehicle.
The driver and passenger emerged unscathed while the car was not stolen.
It’s unclear if the incident could be a case of possible intimidation among drivers regarding this week’s price-cuts.
“We have been in touch with the rider and driver-partner to offer our support and we are relieved to hear both of them are okay. An investigation is underway,” Allenberg told Fin24.
“We are committed to the safety of riders and drivers and we take any incident very seriously,” Allenberg said.