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Update, 11.40am: In light of the incidents in Sandton and Centurion and a request for comment, Uber South Africa explains that it is “engaging with all relevant stakeholders and are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure riders” are safe around Johannesburg.
Read the full statement below.
We take any situation where driver safety is compromised extremely seriously. Driver-partners have access to a 24/7 emergency line in the event they feel unsafe in any way.
Threats and intimidation against those who want to use Uber to boost their income is unacceptable. Violence only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable alternatives like Uber.
We are engaging with all relevant stakeholders and are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure riders and drivers can enjoy a safe, hassle-free time traveling however they choose to get around Johannesburg.
The company also explained that trips are happening as normal today, with increased police presence ensured by law enforcement at key pickup and drop off points across the city.
Original article: According to local media and reports on social media, a number of passengers at Centurion Gautrain station were on Monday “caught up in the turf battle” between metered taxi operators and Uber drivers.
Although murmurs on social media suggested that unrest between the two parties in Sandton was likely, there were few reports of incidents in Johannesburg’s second CBD.
I was almost attacked last night at Sandton Gautrain station, Uber left me stranded cause of all the violence😣😣😣 https://t.co/AkUUtAsweN
— Issa Graduate👩🎓 (@its_tash04) April 24, 2017
Instead, Centurion was the centre of the conflict.
Speaking to the Centurion Rekord, Uber user Jan Berrange was involved in an altercation with an Uber driver and metered taxi operator Monday. The latter reportedly attacked the Uber driver after Berrange ended his journey.
“I have built a relationship of trust with this Uber driver who picks me up from home and drops me at the Gautrain station every morning,” the passenger tells the Rekord.
“The metered taxi drivers were waiting for Uber driver dropping their passengers at the station on and then violently damaging their cars with sticks.”
He explains that both he and the driver escaped without injury however the Uber driver’s car sustained damage.
This was just one incident of many that took place on Monday.
Centurion Gautrain station was a point of friction for metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers on Monday
Twitter and Uber users expressed fear and concern on the social network, with some bemoaning the “violence” at the station prior to Monday’s incidents.
@Ntombiisme I hope it is because it’s already difficult to get an uber at centurion Gautrain station because of the violence.
— Joy in my ❤ (@nonya_bus) April 23, 2017
Other users told of personal experiences, suggested that metered taxis were preventing the transportation company from operating at the station.
— Pearl (@adindapearl) April 24, 2017
Another passenger, tweeting around 9am Monday, suggested that she was “verbally/physically threatened by metered taxis” earlier that morning.
@Uber_RSA me and uber driver verbally/physically threatened by metered taxis at centurion gautrain station at 08h30. Shaken & unhappy 🙁
— Pleiades Alberts (@princesspleia) April 24, 2017
“We’re extremely concerned to hear about this,” Uber South Africa responded to both users on Twitter.
@princesspleia Hello Pleiades. We’re extremely concerned to hear about this. Please send us your contact info urgently via direct message.
— Uber South Africa (@Uber_RSA) April 24, 2017
@adindapearl Hi Pearl. We’re extremely concerned to hear about this. Please send us your contact info via direct message urgently.
— Uber South Africa (@Uber_RSA) April 24, 2017
We’ve reached out to Uber South Africa for further comment.
Uber vs metered taxi drivers: the history
The latest incidents come at a testing time for Uber internationally and locally.
Last month, greater Johannesburg was the scene of a mass anti-Uber #TaxiStrike which disrupted the city’s peak hour transport network.
In mid-2016, another blockade took place around Johannesburg’s traffic department, when metered taxi drivers requested comment from Gauteng’s transport MEC.
Gauteng isn’t the only province seemingly against Uber. In early 2015, the Western Cape’s Metered Taxi Council also issued calls to banish Uber entirely.
There have been no further reports of unrest between the two parties today.
H/T: Centurion Rekord
Feature image: Uber