BY MAYOWA SAMUEL
E-hailing drivers under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union Of App-Based Transport Workers Of Nigeria have shut down operations over low fares.
The strike, which began on Wednesday after a brief meeting in Lagos, was in protest of the high commission rates set by Uber and Bolt — the two biggest ride-hailing service providers in Nigeria.
The development comes amid increased petrol pump prices in Africa’s biggest economy after authorities scrapped subsidy payments on the commodity.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had last week adjusted the price of petrol from N185 to over N500 across its retail outlets, leading to an increase in the prices of goods and services.
“The strike is on. Bolt still maintains 25 percent commission with just N100 increment with this present price of petrol.
“Some buy as high as N600 per litre and as low as N550. The fare is nothing to write home about, especially with the traffic situation in Lagos.
“So the strike has started. But for those who have personal needs to meet, they can take ride requests offline,” one of the drivers said.
Also justifying the industrial action, another driver who identified himself as Azeez, lamented the harsh economic realities in the country.
He said the cost of spare parts has jumped to 300 percent over the last four months.
“I bought fuel for N13, 500 on Sunday and I did a trip of N21, 200. Bolt has taken N5, 300 as their commission. I am left with N15, 900.
“Deduct N13, 500 [for petrol], I am left with N2, 400 and I drove for about eight hours for that day.
“Look at it. If my car breaks down or I have an emergency, will N2, 400 be able to take care of my situation?” Azeez lamented.
Also, in an official statement on Wednesday, the association said the latest removal of subsidy, which has increased the prices of petrol by over 270 percent, coupled with the “unreasonable 25 percent commission charge on every trip has further put the business and investment in an unprofitable state.”
The app-transport workers said they are struggling to survive and can no longer cope with the situation.
Hence, the drivers are demanding an increase in fare by 200 percent and a reduction of commission by 50 percent.
The operators are also asking the companies to stop the unlawful deactivation of drivers, and implement an open collective bargaining with AUATWON.
“We’ve passed our demands to the application companies but they’ve refused to attend to them.
“We are using this opportunity to call on the fleet managers, driver-partners, and app-base transport workers across Nigeria, to support this strike fully and understand that our service(s) must be withdrawn during this protest and moratorium or waiver should be given to all drivers on rentals or higher purchase.
“This is a solidarity step we must take together to protect our investment as fleet managers, secure our business as workers, and secure our job as app drivers.
“We are confident this will give us a better and profitable industry that will encourage every stakeholder,” the statement added.