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Angry Uber drivers threaten boycott over data-sharing compliance extension

by Nike
18 comments 7 minutes read

Angry Uber drivers threaten boycott over data-sharing compliance extension

Uber, the e-hailing company operating in Nigeria, could face a potential driver boycott as it seeks a three-month extension to comply with the data-sharing agreement it signed with the Lagos State Government in 2001.

Reliable sources familiar with the matter told The PUNCH that Uber requested a three-month extension to fulfil its obligations during a closed-door meeting with the Commissioner for Transportation, Oluwaseun Osiyemi, and the Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transporters of Nigeria in Lagos on Monday.

One of the sources questioned why the company needed three months when other platforms had complied without such an extended timeframe.

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“I don’t know what they are hiding; every other platform has compiled. They said the government should give them three months, but what the government is asking for is just real-time data sharing that does not require time; others are doing it,” the source said.

The agreement signed by e-hailing operators and the state government entails API integration for driver and passenger verification, background checks, and licensing compliance.

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While all other e-hailing platforms operating within the state have complied with the agreement, Uber stands as the exception.

In 2020, during the state’s review of ride-hailing regulations, the former Lagos Transport Commissioner, Frederic Oladeinde, stated, “We are not asking the e-hailing companies to release detailed data.

“All we are asking from them is data on trip movement so that we can calculate the right charge and levy due to the government. This data is to be supplied every week,” he stated.

Bolt, another major e-hailing operator, confirmed to our correspondent in a note that it had complied with the state’s regulation on data sharing.

Responding to The PUNCH inquiry on the issue, the Country Manager, Nigeria, Uber, Tope Akinwumi, said, “We remain committed to honouring the terms of the data sharing agreement that we entered into with the Lagos State Government on January 23, 2024.

“The signed agreement includes a commitment to share aggregated trip data daily via a secure folder solution, which we have been doing consistently as we work towards API integration.

“Nigeria is an important market to us, and over the past 10 years, we have played our part in providing a platform for thousands of drivers to earn a flexible income while offering riders a convenient and safe mobility experience,” he stated.

In the past, the global company firm had argued that some of those data points exceeded what regulators needed to perform their duties.

Last week, the transport ministry started impounding vehicles belonging to e-hailing drivers operating on the Uber app.

As a result, app-based transporters in the state informed their members to boycott Uber until the firm complies with the data-sharing regulations with the government.

The Lagos Chairman of the Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transporters of Nigeria, Jayesimi Azeez, told The PUNCH that compliance from Uber was needed for safety reasons.

He said that despite repeated calls for transparency and adherence to local laws, Uber had refused to meet the established standards set forth by the government

.

As a result, drivers have been left with no choice but to take a stand against the ride-hailing giant, he explained.

“We contribute 95 per cent to the business; you just gave us an app. We have written to them many times as a union. We are the ones feeling the brunt. They will comply; if not for the union, many of their vehicles would still be impounded.

“We don’t want to have any clashes with the government anymore. We told them at the meeting that if they don’t sort themselves out, our members will not use their app.

“What the government is trying to do is protect the drivers. We are soft targets for criminals. They profiled us and shared the information. We told them that if they don’t do the right thing, we will continue to stop using them,” Azeez stated.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Oluwaseun Osiyemi, confirmed in a statement obtained by The PUNCH that Uber was non-compliant.

He noted that the state acknowledged global precedents for API integration and urged Uber to comply.

“The API integration will significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized or unqualified individuals operating as drivers, enhancing the overall safety and trustworthiness of the e-hailing platforms,” the commissioner added.

He emphasised that failure to comply would lead to stringent sanctions in alignment with state laws, adding that the decision’s necessity was for the welfare of all stakeholders.

In 2014, the Nigerian market welcomed the advent of e-hailing platforms, marking Uber’s debut in Lagos, followed by Bolt (formerly known as Taxify) in 2016. Uber expanded its services to the national capital, Abuja, within the same year.

Since then, Nigeria has continued to witness a surge in the popularity of ride-hailing platforms, with Uber and Bolt emerging as the frontrunners.

According to Statista, by 2024, the ride-hailing market in Nigeria is anticipated to generate a revenue of $252m.

The sector is expected to exhibit an annual growth rate of 10.74 per cent, leading to a projected market size of $380m by 2028

The Public Relations Officer of AUATON Lagos, Iwindoye Steven, told the PUNCH that they had requested the state stop arresting its members and deal with Uber directly.

The AUATON PRO lamented that Uber was withholding accurate information from the government.

He stated, “We also emphasised that if Uber is to face closure due to non-compliance with the MOT, innocent drivers must not be penalised.

“And we are advising all our members in Lagos to switch to an alternative app and avoid using Uber until they resolve their issues with the Lagos State government.”

According to Steven, the union believes that the government should direct its attention to the Uber office and its servers through the Nigeria Communications Commission instead of troubling its innocent members.

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