Uber-Careem captains protest low fares, ‘unethical’ behaviour of ‘couple riders’


Drivers of cab hailing apps Uber and Careem held a City wide protest here on Tuesday, to register complaints against their respective companies for what they claim are “abuses against their basic human rights.”

The protesting captains came out in true cab driver fashion, forming a large cavalcade made up of their vehicles. The banner bearing cars blocked areas on Ferozepur Road as well as in Liberty and some other isolated areas. The drivers parked their cars mid-road and get off to stage a temporary “sit-in.”

The protesters made a lengthy list of demands from their companies, of both a financial and social nature, as they asked for higher fares and better working conditions and rights.

Uber and Careem had made waves in Pakistan’s transport sector after their introduction last year, significant impacting both public transport and the private rickshaw business.

This change in dynamics had resulted in a numerous protests by rickshaw unions as well as taxi drivers because of the sharp drop in the business they were receiving, as they asked the government to look into their interests. They could not compete with the low rates of large companies, they had claimed.  

However, the shoe seems to be on the other foot for the app companies, as now their drivers are making demands claiming that their compensation and treatment is “inhumane.”

The list of demands they had published included calls for great increases in base charges and the right of drivers to drive in whichever category they wanted. Another bone of contention seemed to be what one Careem driver called “the barbaric and cut throat conditions for the captain’s weekly bonus.

Interestingly enough, many of the cabbies’ expressed their desire for better working conditions. They asked for the the right to know where their rides were taking them, and the right to refuse drop-off services in ‘kachi abadis’ and any areas they found unsuitable. They also wanted to have the right to “ask couple riders to stop an unethical activity and to drop them off in case they fail to comply.” They also demanded more autonomy as well as legal help in case any customers got them in trouble with the authorities.

One incensed Uber driver said that “we are not just drivers, we own these cars and want to be treated with respect. Such work environment is unacceptable.”