[Update] Uber passengers ‘threatened’ at Centurion Gautrain station

uber drivers centurion gautrain stock

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.

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.

Other users told of personal experiences, suggested that metered taxis were preventing the transportation company from operating at the station.

Another passenger, tweeting around 9am Monday, suggested that she was “verbally/physically threatened by metered taxis” earlier that morning.

“We’re extremely concerned to hear about this,” Uber South Africa responded to both users on Twitter.

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

Andy Walker, former editor


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