Johannesburg’s anti-Uber #TaxiStrike according to Twitter

taxi uber johannesburg #taxistrike automobile italia flickr

Update: We’ve received the following comment from Uber South Africa regarding the #TaxiStrike:

Our technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their chances for profit.

In fact many metered taxi drivers are already using our technology to boost their incomes and we would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues. We do not feel that it should be about Uber or Taxi but rather Uber AND Taxi. Threats and intimidation against those who want to use Uber to boost their income is unacceptable. Today’s protest only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable alternatives like Uber.

Safety, reliability, innovation and choice are why the people of Johannesburg are choosing Uber’s world-class digital technology.

The company has also confirmed that service is “operating as normal”.

Original article: Residents of Gauteng, particularly Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni this morning woke up to yet another on-road protest, this time involving metered taxi drivers protesting against on-demand transportation service Uber.

According to Ekhuruleni Metro Police spokesperson Kobedi Mokheseng, the protest began at around 4.3oam SAST, with taxi drivers taking to the R24 — the primary inlet to OR Tambo International Airport — to stem the flow of motor vehicles.

By around 6am, Twitter resembled Johannesburg’s roads, with a slew of motorists stuffing the social network with complaints, images and videos of their morning journey.

The hashtag #TaxiStrike began trending around the same time too, and remains the top-billed trending topic countrywide at the time of writing. But people aren’t simply tweeting about their experiences sitting in traffic. Many are defending Uber.

Uber is once again thrown under the spotlight by the latest #TaxiStrike to affect Johannesburg and surrounds

One user likened the protest to “candle factory workers trying to close down (a) bulb factory”. Others felt the same way.

Some sentiment explains that Uber (and incidentally, Taxify) is “better and cheaper” than metered taxis.

Not in the most serious manner, perhaps…

Some noted that the #TaxiStrike and larger situation isn’t simply a notion of “adapt or die”.

Organisations, political figures and parties have also used Twitter as a mouthpiece to air their views regarding the incident.

SANTACO, South Africa’s national taxi council, called for government intervention on Twitter regarding the “Uber problem”.

Uber itself published an interesting comment on its timeline in response to a disrupted user.

“Today’s protest only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable alternatives like Uber,” the company wrote in a two-tweet reply.

Johannesburg traffic remains ‘a mess’

The current traffic in and around Johannesburg remains fragmented. The N12 is “a mess”, on Twitter user notes.

Click the image for live Google Maps of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni’s traffic.

johannesburg taxi strike traffic uber

To add to the traffic woes, there’s also a truck crash being cleared at the N12/R24 Gillooly’s Interchange.

Uber’s previous problems in South Africa

It’s not the first time Uber has come under fire from citizens or governance in South Africa.

In early 2015, the Metered Taxi Council of the Western Cape called for the shuttering of the service. Roadblocks outside the Johannesburg traffic department in the CBD also took place in mid-2016, when metered taxi drivers sought answers from Gauteng’s transport MEC.

We’ve reached out to Uber South Africa for comment, but have yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Feature image: Automobile Italia via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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