Uber has unveiled its new 1700-square-foot flagship Greenlight Hub in Johannesburg from where the ride-hailing company says experts and staff will train partner drivers and address all their queries including those about the fairness of remuneration.
Alon Lits, General Manager of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), who has been with Uber since its 2013 arrival in Africa, says driver partners on the continent are getting a fair deal – although they can contact Greenlight Hubs in all thirteen African cities (across five countries) where Greenlight support facilities are now operational to raise their concerns.
“This Greenlight hub is something that we are proud of. It underlines our commitment to driver support and making sure that they have channels available where they can get support from focus-groups or even workshops to cater to their needs and where we can receive their comments or suggestions. When it comes to pay for driver-partners the bottom line is that it depends. Driver partners are independent contractors that choose when and where to work. The service fee that Uber takes is 25% and that is in line with our software service agreement with driver partners for them to use our technology. There are other services like in-person support, marketing efforts and the infrastructure behind the application. We are confident about driver-partner earrings.”
Lits adds that cyclicality in African cities that are popular with tourists is an important factor to consider when assessing earnings by driver partners in addition to a driver-partners choice of where, how often and the time of day they choose to work. The growth-trend has been encouraging according to Lits, as Uber is now completing a million rides a month since the last quarter of 2017 in South Africa which is its largest market from a around a million trips a year in 2014 and two million every six months in 2015.
“The general trend across all our cities is that there are fewer minutes between trips for driver partners as we are seeing increasing demand because news individuals are downloading the application and using Uber to move around the city. As supply becomes more reliable we’ve seen wait times across all our cities reduced to five minutes or less which means that there are fewer dead kilometres in the system. Given that trend we are confident that earnings are in a good place and driver sentiment is positive on the back of that.” reveals Lits who also points out that the in-app tipping option for riders launched in South Africa last month from which Uber doesn’t take a cut is also an opportunity for partner drivers to make more money.
Drop in the number of attacks
Uber says the flagship Greenlight Hub in Johannesburg, which is located alongside a busy highway and swarmed with security guards, will be without any company branding outside of the building in the short term. This is due to the threat of attacks in the Johannesburg area, where Uber vehicles have been torched and damaged and drivers attacked allegedly by disgruntled meter taxi drivers.
“The number of attacks have thankfully dropped, but we are still seeing some very isolated incidents. Ones incident is one too many from our perspective and we still have private security in place. That’s a cost that we incur to ensure that driver partners and staff remina safe. At areas where we have seen high intimidation until we are confident that that has been resolved security will remain in place. What I would like to see is a morte from the police even though some firm words have been said following the killing of a Taxify driver a few months ago.” adds Lits.
Uber also covers costs for an emergency number which has been in place for two years as well as a panic button application linked to a control room that can dispatch emergency assistance when a driver sends an alert. Drivers can also share their trip information with another person remotely although this excludes specific pickup and drop off details as well as the option to decline cash requests. Lits emphasizes that none of these interventions are meant to replace the work done by police.
“The experience for driver partners in our Greenlight Hubs is a lot more pleasant and there is sufficient seratingh space and no queueing outside. We have also got space for external vendor who are providing drivers with access to cellphone contracts, health insurance, fuel vouchers, bank accounts and even funeral cover for less. The idea is to really have a one-stop shop for partner-drivers with regard to Uber or any other issue they may have as small business owners.”
Uber Greenlight Hubs are open weekdays between 9am and 4pm.