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It seems popular e-hailing company Uber is playing the carrot against the stick, betting on its role as a job creator to ward off controversy. The South African chapter of the US$40-billion conglomerate has just announced in a press release that it’s created over 2 000 local jobs since launching in the Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban in 2013. It further hopes to grow this number to 15 000 within the next two years.
The news comes fresh in the face of news that the City of Cape Town, South Africa has started to clamp down on Uber’s operations, impounding over 30 affiliated transport vehicles for not having “public transport operating licence”.
Job creation seems to be a common thread in Uber communications at the moment. Earlier this week Uber CEO Travis Kalanick similarly announced that he’s planning on creating over 50 000 jobs in Europe.
The company has faced a year of controversial storms spanning from privacy infringements, alleged harassment of journalists and unwelcoming laws related to certain taxi industries.
In a statement, Alon Lits, General Manager, Uber Johannesburg and Durban said the following:
Uber does not own any vehicles nor do we employ any drivers, we are a technology company that connects riders with drivers in their area. What this means is that all cars are privately owned and the drivers work for themselves. Some of our partner-drivers own their own cars, others buy a couple of cars and then employ drivers. Rider choice and driver opportunity is at the core of what Uber does. We are proud to be empowering hundreds of entrepreneurs every month in South Africa.
Uber further highlights the benefits that its service holds for affiliated drivers, noting that the Uber system empowers them to become their own boss, make more money and grow their business quickly.
Jonathan Harris, an uberX driver based in the Cape Town city centre, says the following in the press statement: “I have been in the taxi industry for five years as a driver. Now that I am using Uber as a platform, I have an ongoing work flow. Uber has really changed how I work, it is amazing. I also love that 95% of my customers are local and not tourists. It just shows how much people love Uber here.”
Talking on the future of Uber in South Africa, le Roux says, “We are immensely proud of the impact Uber has had in South Africa to date, creating over 2 000 jobs across the country since launching in late 2013. The future, however, is significantly more exciting. Uber is fundamentally changing the way that people are moving around their cities and for the first time, creating a viable, cheaper and more efficient alternative to vehicle ownership. This means more riders, more partner-drivers and loads more jobs. If things continue going the way they are, Uber could easily create another 15 000 jobs across South Africa over the next two years.”
Come flak, come foe, there doesn’t seem to be stopping Uber’s growth. The company just recently raised another US$1.6-billion in convertible debt.