Three local Apps to replace Uber and Bolt

The Soweto United E-hailing Association held a meeting on October 10, 2023, for E-hailing drivers and their counterparts and alliances to officially launch “SUEA” in formalization and as a recognized organization representing drivers and owners affiliated with the industry.

E-hailing was introduced in South Africa in 2013 through Uber, while Bolt (formerly known as Taxify) was introduced in 2016. Some Soweto residents have embraced ride-hailing services as a convenient alternative to traditional taxis, while others have criticized the services for being too expensive.

Mr. Gregory Kgaka, Secretary General of the Soweto United E-hailing Association, says “the main purpose of the meeting was to give feedback on the violence that took place in Maponya and Protea Glen Mall that saw e-hailing drivers banned from these malls.” Mr. Kgaka continues to cite that three locally developed apps will be launched to replace Uber and Bolt.

These apps will come with a lot of opportunities. One app, which cannot be named, has a deal with Toyota Halfway in Fourways to give drivers a car at an affordable payback rate, unlike the deal from Uber, where drivers are paying R2 500 per week and R10 000 per month for a car. They don’t have full ownership either; your family cannot drive the car, and in the event of an emergency, you can’t have someone else drive you to the hospital, yet it’s stipulated that you’re renting the car to own it.

Gregory says, “In the event of the passing of a family member, the driver can’t stay three days without being online; they (Uber or Bolt) will ask you how you are going to pay for the car if you’re not working. With these new apps coming, it will put all these to an end, and drivers won’t be treated like slaves.” Gregory says that the only thing you can afford is a loaf of bread.

A bolt owner based in Soweto says he will support the local-based app, provided the app is professional and user-friendly, and drivers are able to make money through the app.

Sipho, a driver from Soweto, welcomes the initiative from the Soweto United E-Hailing Associations to formalize the association in order to protect drivers from their lived experience. Sipho highlights that 80% of drivers in Soweto don’t have their own car, and this initiative will empower drivers to be truly independent.

The SUEA says they are engaging the taxi drivers through the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), and they hope that taxi drivers will come on board and start seeing things differently. Mr. Kgaka says that the local apps are endorsed by SANTACO, which will then stop the violence and tension between e-hailing and taxi drivers.

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