Uber seeks police protection in Johannesburg

July 07, 2015 09:02
Uber is facing protests from taxi drivers who said it is eating into their business. Photo: Bloomberg

Uber Technologies has sought police protection for drivers and passengers using its ride-sharing service in Johannesburg, South Africa's biggest city, amid threats from taxi drivers who are angry at the company for eating into their business.

Several Uber users have complained that they have been harassed into taking metered taxis in Johannesburg’s business district instead of the cars they had hailed via Uber’s smartphone app, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“[The taxi drivers] said Uber as a non-African organization was taking a significant cut of the business away from locals,” Roheid Ojageer, an analyst at a nonprofit healthcare agency, was quoted as saying.

Ojageer said the drivers forced him to ride in one of the taxis Sunday evening at three times the fare Uber charges.

San Francisco-based Uber uses drivers without professional licenses, allowing it to offer lower prices.

Dozens of metered taxi drivers on Friday staged a protest outside Uber’s offices in Johannesburg, after city officials said they wanted Uber to comply with legislation aimed at overcoming decades of racial discrimination under white-minority rule, the newspaper said.

But Uber said many of its 2,000 drivers in South Africa come from groups discriminated against under apartheid.

The company is also involved in a licensing dispute in Cape Town, where officials have impounded hundreds of its drivers’ cars this year, the report said.

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