By Gloria Ehiaghe
Having explored all options to express its displeasure over exorbitant charges and alleged fake insurance policies by foreign e-hailing companies operating in Nigeria, Uber and Taxify drivers have vowed to dump the foreign partners to promote Nigerian app companies as it begins operations.
The drivers and partners, who are the major supplier of logistics in the e-hailing industry in Nigeria, submitted that the foreign app companies started the price war at the expense of drivers, leaving them (drivers) with ridiculous low earnings that cannot pay their bills.
With these anomalies have geared the drivers, who came together to form a union referred to as the National Union for Professional E-hailing Drivers and Partners (NUPEDP), representing over 14,000 drivers all over the country, affiliated to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and registered under the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
At a stakeholder’s forum, the National President, NUPEDP, Ayoade Ibrahim, said the union has written several letters to the e-hailing companies to listen to the yelling of the drivers and revert to the former pricing formula, and has also tried stopping the price war between the two giants, Uber and Taxify. He said that they vehemently refused to concur, as bulk of the money they worked for is siphoned by the foreign companies’ through the collection of high percentages and commissions, leaving them with nothing to take home after toiling day and night.
While declaring the union’s support for the new local e-hailing app, Go247, RideMe and Tripz among others, Ibrahim said the companies, having gone though their terms and conditions are ready to give priority to drivers, who are ready to operate with little or no commission, adding that they were ready to support the Federal Government through local content participation.
“The problem we have in the country is that there is no policy to regulate some of these e-hailing companies, that is why all of them are operating with their country’s law in Nigeria, robbing us of our constitution,
“My message for riders in Nigeria is for them to see that local content is very important. They should use our local app so that the economy of Nigeria can be great rather than allowing foreigners go with our investment. We should see the way we can come together to promote these apps,” he said.
The Public Relations Officer of the union, Iribhogbe Ignis, said presently, that all drivers are being sensitised to join the union, save their investment and also embrace a collective bargaining system, such that they would know that they are working under a sustainable working conditions with the app companies.
He spoke on the benefits for drivers, who want to join the union, “For driver partners who are to join the union, there are several benefits like a collective bargaining for all driver partners through the union, the welfare of drivers on the job risk will be curtailed by the union through certain modules to address issues. We will also have drivers’ cooperative to ensure that we have financial prudence for drivers such that when you are working you know you have savings somewhere to take care of your family.
“Basically, we know that drivers are suffering out there. We would not want a situation whereby we would lose drivers to a slavery method that the foreign companies have put in place. We have agreed that we would go back home, embrace and go into negotiations with our indigenous app, sign an agreement as to our operations collectively and not like individually as it was with Uber and Taxify.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Go247 Technologies Limited, Sa’adat Bakrin-Ottun, one of the new local app companies told The Guardian that they considered it was about time they started their own app to assist and prove to e-hailing drivers that there was dignity in labour, adding that they’ve mostly had it rough with the foreign operators and to be able to assist them to grow.
“We want to give Nigerians the opportunity not only to grow but to be able to make some sense of life. We don’t want to give it up to some foreign companies, which just come to Nigeria and earn a lot substantial amount and they use to develop their own economy, that is not good for any country,” she said.