Shortly after the launch of South African e-hailing service Yo! Taxi!, drivers for other platforms such as Uber and Bolt launched a protest against the new platform, the Sunday Times reported.
These drivers accused the local e-hailing service of intimidation, alleging that Yo! Taxi! drivers had sought to intimidate them and buy them off.
Yo! Taxi! app developer Helium 3 Digital refuted these allegations, stating that there is a joining fee of R5,000 which includes a uniform, training, mobile, and vehicle branding, which does not amount to extortion.
The new local ride-hailing platform aims to allow metered taxi drivers to compete with Uber and Bolt, and it has partnered with a number of taxi associations across the country.
“A lot of the industry guys were shutting down due to infiltration by Uber and Taxify [Bolt], and remember those are not legally permitted cars,” said Helium 3 Digitalhead Mark Simon.
Uber told the Sunday Times that it was aware of the protest and condemned intimidation of Uber users, while adding that the introduction of new services was good for consumers.
“However, threats and intimidation against people who want to use the Uber app must be condemned,” the company said.
Bolt stated it was aware of the conflict between metered taxi drivers and its ride-hailing drivers, stating that it was working with the police to promote a safe environment for drivers and riders.
Uber under attack
Uber has faced a number of challenges during its South African operations, the most overtly violent of which has been the response of metered taxi drivers to the ride-hailing app.
Reports of violence flaring up between Uber and metered taxi drivers have abated over the last year or two, but this could be attributed as much to the safety measures put in place by Uber as to the placation of the metered taxi industry.
Uber previously told MyBroadband that there has been intimidation of Uber riders at Gautrain stations across Gauteng.
“Uber driver-partners were previously operating inside the Gautrain stations where they would either drop off or pick up Gautrain passengers,” Uber said.
“Unfortunately, due to the increase in intimidation by metered taxi drivers, we reacted the best we could within our power by implementing additional private security and pickup zones across the road.”