Starting today, Uber drivers in Abuja will be going on strike following what seems to be a series of problems with the company.

For a while now, the Abuja Partner Forum has been trying to get Uber to take note of some issues that have been affecting both drivers and partners in the city. According Gbenro Ogundipe, an Uber Partner in Abuja, there have been reports of drivers getting robbed by riders, rides not being properly documented (so drivers earn less than what they’re due), amongst other issues.

As a result, the Forum sent a couple of mails to Uber, and these mails were, for some reason, being replied by Uber’s SA branch. It goes without saying that the guys over there had almost no idea of what was going on, and could offer little help. Eventually, mails to Uber started getting bounced (you might have noticed this too, if you tried sending Uber a mail over the past few months), and the Forum had to reach Uber via chat on the main site.

A meeting with the Uber management team was held in June, and some of the prevailing issues were raised. It was then agreed that the team would meet with the partners every month so they could come up with solutions – they haven’t met since June.

Three weeks ago, the Partners, again, reached out to Uber, requesting for a meeting. Some of their demands, in response to the issues, were:

  • Rider identity verification through valid and matching credit/debit cards, due to security concerns.
  • Detailed explanation of completion rate calculation, and inclusion of completion rates in app/dashboard.
  • Increased rider education through the app.
  • Requirements for destinations to be entered by riders before they can make requests, so the rider is clear on fare estimate before trip.
  • Penalties for long waits after driver arrival at pickup location.
  • Increase in per minute rates to N30/min.
  • Base fare increase to N300 (from N220).
  • Airport fare increase to N4000 (from N3000) and inclusion of N400 toll.
  • Removal of peak hour conditions for high flier incentives.
  • Rounding up of fares to the nearest N50.
  • 24-hour limit to rider rating the driver.
  • Clearer procedures for reporting and resolving issues

The Partners were then asked to fill out a form, which they assumed would be used to plan the next meeting. Over 150 people filled that form, but there has been no response from Uber since then.

And this is the reason why Uber Partners and drivers in Abuja have decided to take action. As from today, they will no longer grant requested trips to or from the airport.

In a mail to Uber informing them of this strike, the Partners said, “The economic changes we are experiencing has made some trips quite unprofitable, if not impracticable. The evident nonchalant attitude to our request is seen as further worsening an already difficult business situation for Partners. It re-emphasizes the perception that this is not a partnership. We have looked at our operations and decided to begin to trim off the inefficient trips. Partners have decided that starting Monday 31st October, 2016, trips to and from the airport will not be completed.”

Uber’s second Nigerian city, Lagos, is not without its own problems. There’ve been recent reports of drivers starting trips without picking their riders, and even ignoring their calls. Apparently, it’s happened not once, twice or even thrice.

With all the recent trouble Uber’s beginning to face with the Nigerian government (what with Road Safety officials impounding Uber vehicles in Lagos), it’s important for Uber to treat issues swiftly before they fester and break down the entire system. They already have good patronage in Nigeria, and are one of the strongest (if not only) ride-hailing services in the country. It’d be a shame to see this market power lost due to negligence.

We’ve reached out to Uber for an official statement regarding this strike, and will update this post as soon as we receive one.

Here’s hoping the Abuja problem gets resolved quickly.

Update:  Lead communications for Uber in Africa, Samantha Allenberg, has gotten back to us with an official statement. Here it is:

“More than 1,000 drivers have so far partnered with Uber to voluntarily provide safe, affordable transport for people in the country’s largest cities. Uber has improved the driver experience with flexibility, increased economic opportunity and established communication channels.

Anyone can speak to us at any time and there are a number of ways driver-partners can let us know if they have any individual concerns.

Uber is focused not only on a great experience for riders but also increased economic opportunity for driver-partners. Uber succeeds when our partners succeed, so our teams are working hard everyday to find even more ways for driver-partners on the Uber platform to thrive.”

Meanwhile, Uber Nigeria, through their twitter account, has made a statement of their own. According to them, they have reached out the drivers on strike, and are working on sorting this out.

Tola Agunbiade Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox