Uber has a lot of problems. The company has always had problems in the many markets it operates in — and within itself too, sometimes to the point where violent protests and extensive lobbying have been the only way out for the 6-year old unicorn.
The company’s latest worry is coming from Lagos where Uber drivers have gone on strike and are currently protesting a 40% price cut which Uber put in place following a similar price reduction by Taxify, one of its main competitors in Lagos.
Over 300 drivers in Lagos took to the streets of Lagos today Monday, May 8, 2017, in various groups, to protest the fare cut which leaves driver with 40% less than they earned before the price cuts.
Maintenance costs, fuel costs and drastically reduced profits are some of the reasons behind the drivers’ agitations. One of the drivers, who spoke to Pulse Tech under the condition of anonymity, said over the weekend Uber billed #2,200 for a trip from Surulere, in the heart of the Lagos mainland, to Sango Ota, on the border between Lagos State and Ogun State.
“Na the rider sef pity me add 2k on top because that traffic plenty die,” the driver said. “It’s not fair na. Our own profit dey reduce but their own 25% commission still dey intact. Which kain tin be that?”
The drivers had originally headed to Uber’s onboarding office in Lekki Phase One, Lagos to air their grievances. However, when the Police refused to allow them entry into the building, they headed to Uber Nigeria’s main office in Ikoyi to engage with the Uber management.
A lot of them parked their vehicles inside Lekki and walked in protest to the Uber offices in Parkview with placards, one of which read “Uber Na Scam.” At the time of writing this article, no member of the Uber management has made a statement to the drivers or engaged them in any kind of dialogue.
The drivers are threatening to quit Uber’s platform altogether unless one of two things are done: A revert of the price cut back to the old prices or a reduction of Uber’s commission from the current 25%. Some of the drivers said Uber’s decision to slash prices without consulting them showed how little the company thought of them.
Uber Lagos’ representative could not be reached for comment at the time of writing this story. Some of the drivers, also speaking under the condition of anonymity, opined that the price cuts may not have been sanctioned by Uber’s global HQ, alluding that it was a decision taken by Uber’s Nigeria arm.
This is a developing story.
UPDATE: We visited the site of the protests and security officials at Uber Nigeria’s Ikoyi office, under the condition of anonymity, said Uber staff had not been to the office since last week, neither have they been there today. Meanwhile, the drivers have met with Taxify Nigeria management, a source says, and negotiations are currently ongoing to come to terms on both sides.
There has been a 4x surge on the Uber rider app all day with several users complaining about being unable to find an Uber ride as the strike persists. However, a few Uber cars are still running across the city.