Uber, Careem drivers protest unfair treatment


–Drivers of ride-hailing companies claim they are not earning enough

LAHORE: Hundreds of fed up drivers working for Uber and Careem held a rally to protest unfair treatment on Friday, in a bid to demand sufficient wages in the provincial capital.

Holding banners and placards in their hands, the drivers of ride-hailing companies parked their vehicles (cars, motorcycles and rickshaws) outside the Lahore Press Club to protest ‘blackmailing’ and low fares of both the companies, throwing traffic out of gear for hours.

They said that the taxi-hailing apps are maintaining low fares to fleece their poor drivers. One protester told Pakistan Today that the drivers were left with a mere one-third of the fare and were unable to earn a sufficient livelihood despite dragging tires of their vehicles on roads for many hours.

The infuriated Uber and Careem drivers said to have been holding rallies from last Saturday at different places but to no avail. They said that they would demonstrate in front of the office of Punjab transport secretary on Saturday, adding that they would block the main Ferozpur Road as he was the person who allowed these ride-haling taxis to operate in the country.

They further said they would gather in front of the Punjab Governor House and continue protesting until these ride-hailing companies agree to their genuine demands.

An Uber driver displaying banner against ride-hailing companies on vehicle


Rizwani Ali, who runs a car rental in Mozang area, said he has engaged at least 10 vehicles on both the companies. “Uber and Careem were once a lucrative source of income but now they have become a liability for those driving for the company due to car maintenance and fuel costs that entail.”

“When we protested against them outside their offices, they were not ready to cooperate. Rather they threatened us to pull out our vehicles. The administrations of both the companies said it does not matter if 400 or 500 vehicles are pulled out as hundreds of other vehicles drivers are ready to join them. They have attributed the decrease in profits to the increase in the number of drivers working for Uber and Careem,” Ali told Pakistan Today.

He further said drivers are unable to earn extra during peak hours as it is difficult to predict when fares are high and, therefore, they cannot be relied upon now.

Ali further alleged that both the companies were fleecing the drivers and customers alike. “Uber and Careem have joined hands in Pakistan to loot drivers. They are depriving us of our bonuses. When we complete required rides to be able to get a bonus, the companies plug out, thus depriving us of the bonuses,” he argued.

Hanif Ahmed, who runs a rickshaw on Uber and participated in the protest, said he quit his job in a private company to earn his bread and butter through Uber. “My rickshaw is of 2018 model and I am unable to earn a reasonable profit. It has become impossible for me to make both ends meet. Where should I go now and show my grievances? No one is listening to us,” he complained.

It is pertinent to mention here that these ride-hailing apps have been facing protests by angry taxi drivers, but now their own driver-partners have joined hands with them.