W/R: ‘Online’ drivers park cars in protest

Members of the Ghana Online Drivers Association (GODA) in the Western Region are giving ride-hailing app companies up to Wednesday, March 23 to address issues of high commission, low fares, driver security and adequate passenger verification or they go off the apps.

During a sit-down strike that saw over 200 online drivers park their cars for over 3 hours, the Association insisted that the current economic conditions in the country necessarily warrant a review of the rules of engagement.

“This year alone we all are witness to the number of times prices of fuel have been increased with no corresponding reliefs for us. Fares and commissions remain the same. They claim they have made some increase of 5.5 percent but this is still on the low side,” National Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Online Drivers Association Albert Bentum explained.

According to him, “all the apps are culpable. Their commissions are so high. We buy our own car, fuel, data, spare parts, maintenance, call credits and also take on lots of risks and yet the gains are so negligible. Imagine, for each trip that a driver makes, the companies take 20 percent which is too much. We strongly believe that can be reduced to 5 percent and they can still make their profits”.

Mr. Bentum insisted that the app companies subject passengers to the same rigorous verification drivers are made to go through before they are allowed to drive.

“As a driver if I go online and I’m applying to drive online, the companies will take my full name, drivers licence, GPS address, road worthiness, insurance, picture of my car and myself. They use it to verify me before I am allowed to drive. Now when a client is applying, all that they need to do is to get a phone number and then they are ready to go. So we have names like snakes, long leg, ghost, killer, thief, condom, sex and other funny names. But imagine, if you request and the driver’s name is any of what I have mentioned will you take that car. Meanwhile, they expect us to brace all these risks and at the end of the day we not get anything in return. That’s not fair at all”.

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Mr. Bentum also mentioned how the drivers are being frustrated each day with unwarranted cancellation of trips and lack of compensation thereof.

“You have to drive long distances to respond to requests. And when you get there you have to wait for 5 minutes. Sometimes, you wait and after 4 minutes the client cancels the trip. In other jurisdictions, you are compensated but here they don’t do it. And it has to change.”

He stated: “Another worry is how drivers are blocked by the company without any verification of claims of verbal abuse. Some of the passengers are simply difficult to deal with. And when there is any incident, the company will not verify from the driver but go ahead to block the driver. This must also change. It is only fair that you listen to both sides and not just one.”

Mr. Bentum maintained that the members have resolved to go off the various ride hailing apps in the next three days should their demands go unattended to.

There are over 400 online drivers in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis.

By Eric Yaw Adjei|Connect FM|3news.com|Ghana