Ride-hailing drivers in Nigeria return to work after last week’s strike. They’ll take small wins from their protest, such as reinstating some drivers whose profiles were deleted from ride-hailing platforms. 

After a midweek protest across Nigeria last week, ride-hailing drivers return to work today. Today’s resumption will happen despite drivers saying ride-hailing companies have not met their demands. According to two key members of the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), continuing the strike was unreasonable because many drivers need daily income to survive. 

The Union’s general secretary, Ibrahim Ayoade, told TechCabal, “The decision is for our members to return to work today. They can seek tips from riders if the ride doesn’t favor them. ” 

An insufficient silver lining? 

Last week, Bolt offered the drivers a daily bonus of N6,000, amongst other incentives. But the drivers kicked against the bonus, which had several conditions; many drivers TechCabal spoke to called the bonus insufficient. Yet, the striker scored a critical point: a reinstatement of drivers’ profiles who were deleted from Bolt’s platform. 

The National treasurer for the Union, Comrade Jolaiya Moses, told TechCabal, “We gave (ride-hailing platforms) an ultimatum for the review of accounts blocked arbitrarily. They unblocked some profiles, and we started seeing testimonials from different drivers. Part of our demands is that these things should not be done unilaterally. They won’t be the only ones to review. Let’s check everything together to see which is genuine and immaterial. There are so many unjustified blocking, suspension and sanctions of drivers by app companies.”

Unmet demands

The demands of the Union, a 200% increase in fares, remains unmet; instead, Bolt and Uber increased fares by 30-40%. It is an acknowledgment of Nigeria’s market reality. Any steep increase will undoubtedly lead to a dropoff in demand. 

Yet, the Union remains optimistic. National treasurer Moses is hinging his hopes on the promised engagement between the Union and the ride-hailing companies, which occurred last Friday in Lagos and Abuja. Another impasse during those engagements will likely lead to another strike.

According to Moses, “We plan that going forward, we will use a window of seven days to analyze all the immediate responses we have been able to get. While we are analyzing that, we expect that some of the app companies that promised to do something within the next seven days would have done those things and gotten back to us for further discussion on those demands. It is not over yet until our demands are met. Most of our demands currently are not met. They have however done some things in the interim— like unblocking drivers profiles.”

Bolt is careful to increase prices as it tries to navigate rider sentiments to get a cost-effective approach. Moses acknowledges this fact but states that drivers suffer from the fuel situation. “Currently, we are driving with it to see the profitability. I can tell you that all the feedback we got is negative. It is eating into our profits. We are actually selling below the cost price, and definitely we have to embark on the strike if nothing is done about it within the next seven days,” he explained. Chairman of the media and publicity committee of the Union, Comrade Jossy Olawale, hinted that there may be another strike on June 16 if their demands are still not met.

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