Uber drivers protest clampdown in Lagos, accuse Uber of negligence

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Some Uber drivers on Monday marched on the office of the Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS), protesting the recent clampdown on their operations on Lagos roads.

The drivers are miffed that Uber and Taxify authorities have remained indifferent in the face of the intensified harassment and disruption of their activities by Lagos VIS officials, who insist that all drivers must have hackney permits, Lagos State Drivers’ Institute (LASDRI) certification and that Uber must pay the operator license fee to the Lagos state government.
 
“Uber and Taxify offices were closed. When the drivers got to VIO’s office in Ojodu, none of the officials came out to talk to them,” Adegoke Faloye, an Uber driver, acting as the group’s spokesman told reporters on Monday.

But a spokesman for Uber in West Africa Efosa Aiyevbomwan said the office was opened on Monday.
Aiyevbomwan at the weekend said he was not aware of the drivers’ plan to protest. He said Uber was open to engaging the drivers to understand their concerns.

During the protest, Faloye said VIO officials ordered security officers to send them away. He attributed the clampdown on himself and other colleagues to noncompliance to government regulations by Uber and Taxify. “Uber and Taxify needed to do the right thing to government since 2016. Government had written to them and decided to stop them since they did not comply,” Faloye said.

Despite being on the receiving end, Faloye said their complaints to Uber have been ignored except a recent memo that surfaced on the application telling them to be calm. “There was a circular that was sent via the app that they were aware of the crisis. They said they have an agreement with VIO office not to disturb us,” Faloye said quoting the message Uber drivers were sent.

In spite of the message, the driver said some of his colleagues were still stopped by the government officials on Monday. He said one of his colleagues had the side mirror of his vehicle broken by a VIS official. He said the clampdown had forced many drivers to down tools to avoid embarrassment.

VIS officials told reporters last week that the enforcement of already existing laws guiding the operations of professional drivers in the state began recently. Lagosians risks more exposure to the traffic situation if Uber and Taxify drivers decide to down tools permanently due to the clampdown.

Already, Lagos State Government has commenced a restriction of the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in six local governments – Apapa, Eti Osa, Ikeja, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland and Surulere. In protest of the restriction, Okada and Keke riders have clashed with police officers in the Lagos suburbs of Ijora and Iyana Ipaja.