Across Nigeria, ride-hailing drivers are protesting. They’re demanding that Uber, Bolt and other ride-hailing companies increase fares by at least 200%.
A typical weekday morning in Lagos is rush hour, a good time of the day for cab drivers. But this Wednesday, ride-hailing drivers—think: Uber, Bolt, LagRide, Indriver—are protesting. At the direction of the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), ride-hailing drivers are following a sit-at-home order until the ride-hailing companies increase their base fares. The union also has other demands.
According to the National Vice President for Southwest Nigeria (AUATWON), Kolawole Aina, “Each local government in Lagos State and by extension, all states in Nigeria will be protesting today at the same time.” TechCabal also understands that the drivers plan to picket the offices of Uber in Victoria Island and Bolt in Lekki. “All e-hailing platforms are shut down from today till Friday,” Aina told TechCabal over the phone. “The riders should find another alternative,” he said.
AUATWON is hopeful that the strike will not last long. “The strike may not have to last that long if they (Uber and Bolt) do what we ask in time,” Somoye Olalekan, the Public Relations Officer for the union, who is leading the protest in Ifako Ijaiye local government, another location for today’s strike, told TechCabal. At the time of filing this report, protest activities have begun in Edo State. Comrade Jolaiya Moses told TechCabal he would join the movement from there.
Despite the strike action, which is supposed to run till Friday, I could still find a driver on the Bolt app who was five minutes away. As with most ride-hailing strikes, enforcement is difficult because many gig workers need to work daily to survive or make repayments to the owners of cars or make good on loans. The AUATWON task force understands the enforcement problem, and in Ifako-Ijaiye, the union is stopping drivers who are working.
As TechCabal reported on Tuesday, at the heart of this week’s strike is a demand by AUATWON asking ride-hailing companies to increase fares by a minimum of 200%. The union is also asking for a 50% reduction in commission—Uber and Bolt collect a 20% commission on every ride—and an end to the deactivation of drivers who refuse to work due to the low fares and attendant unprofitability. The union is also seeking the recognition of AUATWONas the representative body for their interests.