Drivers for e-hailing company Bolt, in Durban, have joined a nationwide protest calling on the company to cancel a new feature in its app that was introduced recently.
According to drivers, the feature called “Bolt Go Future” gives passengers the opportunity to request a ride at a low fare. They say say they are now making a loss since all their passengers are taking advantage of the feature.
Traffic came to a standstill at various parts of Durban on Monday morning as the drivers took to the streets to air their grievances. Traffic on some roads leading towards the Blue Lagoon was disrupted for at least an hour as the protesters drove in a convoy.
Secretary of the South African E-Hailing Association Sthembiso Mgwaba says operators will no longer have enough money to service their vehicles or even cover other expenses, if this new feature is not stopped.
“We have sent them a letter sometime last week requesting them to remove this feature and up until Friday we have given them a date up until Friday last week they did not bother to respond. Hence we have decided to gather here today. The protest is not going to end today if we are still finding no joy. The protest will continue until they respond to our demands,” says Mgwaba.
Mgwaba is urging all Bolt operators to be offline until the company responds to their demands.
“We are not going to use violence. We just want to bring it to their attention. We are aware that some drivers are not aware of our strike today. They might not be aware of our strike today since we’ve got many drivers belonging to many social media group. We want them to know that we have a strike and they must join,” says Mgwaba.
Some of these drivers say they now fear for their lives as taxi associations have already started complaining that their commuters are opting for metered taxis, that have become cheaper.
“With the prices going down we will have an issue with the taxi associations. Do now us being cheaper and one car picking up about 4 people taxi drivers they will be angry about this. We all know how taxi drivers react to such stuff. We are trying to avoid that as well.”
“How do you cover fuel. How do you cover tyres, how to you pay for car service, insurance and staff like that. It’s just doesn’t make sense at all. “Bolt go “has got to go.”
The drivers have given Bolt until next Monday to respond to their grievances. The company could not be reached for comment.