Uber Drivers In South Africa Complain Of Xenophobia And Bureaucracy


We recently told you of a plan by South African Authorities to regulate the taxi hailing service in order to appease taxi drivers. The City of Johannesburg is consulting with the government of Guateng province on possible strategies to introduce new rules that include compliance with laws  aimed at involving black people in the economy. “The city would like a South African flavor of black economic empowerment with Uber”.

According to an Uber Spokesperson in South Africa, taxi drivers in the City of Capetown are suffering xenophobic discrimination from traffic police and face lengthy waiting times for license approvals.  The spokesperson told Bloomberg that many of Uber’s partner drivers have been stopped by law enforcement authorities, to determine if the driver is in deed of South African origin. The authorities then demand to see the Uber application on the Driver phones.  South Africa recently suffered one of the worst cases of xenophobia, with South African Citizens seeing people from other African countries as competitors for their jobs. Most of the violence was concentrated in Johannesburg and Durban, all of which Uber operates.

Uber launched in South Africa in 2013. In 2014, its drivers took 1 million journeys and in 2015 alone, the service has taken 2 million journeys which enforces the narrative of the popularity of the service in this market. The process of acquiring permits for Uber drivers has also been a challenge in Capetown with the process taking more than six months.  The company is awaiting the outcome of 143 out of 350 outstanding applications while a further 800 are awaiting approval by the City of Cape Town. In 2015, law enforcement authorities have impounded 200 Uber vehicles for lack of proper permits.

Source: Bloomberg