PROFESSIONAL E-HAILING DRIVERS AND PRIVATE–OWNER ASSOCIATION (PEDPA) PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON 25TH AUGUST, 2020 AT LCCI BUILDING ALAUSA, IKEJA LAGOS.
Salutations to George Arison the first man that thought of improving the transportation system by converting the flag down system to electronic hailing (e-hailing). His plan was to reduce the stress of travelers who often find it difficult to get a taxi.
After meeting few of his investor friends, George Arison was able to build the first e-hailing application called “MAGIC TAXI” which was later named “CURB”. And With this new Taxi innovation passengers (riders) can now call a taxi by a tap on their phone, amazingly this innovation (MAGIC TAXI) experienced 30000 downloads within 24 hours of launching.
With Arison’s Technology, the educated taxi drivers who were able to download and use the app became e-hailing drivers and get more rides easily without being under-paid as riders are meant to pay the drivers their normal charges and still pay extra to the company. However, Magic Taxi didn’t allow its users to have other means of payment except through the company, and this becomes a thing of concern to both drivers and riders in year 2008.
As we all know, investors will always identify a problem on existing product and proffer a sellable solution. That is why UBER AND FLYWHEEL quickly filled the vacuum left by MAGIC TAXI in year 2009 by providing an alternative means of payment.
While FLYWHEEL and Uber solved the existing problem by bringing 2 more robust payment system namely “card and cash” they both came out to the industry as a transportation companies but maintained the position of technology companies instead of being recognize as transportation company in the eye of the law.
Soon, Lyft, Zimride, Hitch, Didi, etc brought in competition and the shortcomings in the T&C (terms and conditions) of FLYWHEEL AND UBER became obvious to the drivers, government, lawyers, activists and all concerned stakeholders.
Since this system of transportation is a new innovation outside the transportation scope of all countries, each country began to try different method of regulating the industry while drivers are also agitating to take back their services from the app companies in order to have contractual obligation to fix the price of their service and have a union to speak on their behalf in the decisions of app companies as well as have a say in the policies of the app companies.
Let’s take a look at the approach of different country and their drivers; San Francisco (California); It’s important to start with California because Uber being the major app in the world today starts from California.
As earlier said, Uber solved the problem in the payment system but came to the market as a transportation company while maintaining the position of a technology company in the eye of the law. This gives Uber and other apps the power to increase/decrease price of services rendered by drivers on their platforms.
Unfortunately instead of increase in the price of the service, they all resulted in slashing the price of the service they are not rendering due to competitions to gain more riders into their platform, they also increase their commissions at will without consulting or considering the drivers who are the owners of the services they are selling to the riders (passenger), and all these had caused the drivers to lament daily and made the legislator to come up with AB5 law which oblige all app companies to admit their drivers as employees for them to enjoy more benefits from the app companies who chose to treat them like an employee while the T&C states that drivers are independent contractors.
Though the AB5 look forward to help drivers but in actual sense no driver wants to be an employee to app companies, we all join the industry as an entrepreneur and value our freedom.
The best way to help us will be to give driver a place in the T&C as this will help them to protect their business anytime the app companies are making policies.
Hong Kong ; e-hailing industry is outside the scope of Hong Kong regulations and today uber is neither legal nor illegal in Hong Kong, at any point where police arrest drivers on the road they device a means of sorting themselves, and when the government of Hong Kong steps in and about 21 uber cars were arrested in a bid to get uber attention to come for regulation.
This saga continues till date, drivers are always the bait. This is why drivers must form a union and have a representative in the business arm of app companies to protect their interests during policy making.
In London; The British government seems not to be a novice to the e-hailing technology, they were able to profile all ride hailing applications under their ministry of transportation TFL (TRANSPORT FOR LONDON). TFL ensure that app companies comply with the followings;
1. Obtain operations license
2. Submit appropriate Data to the government
3. Provide a secure and a safe environment for both drivers and riders.
This guideline enables TFL to simply withdraw the license of all app companies that did not follow the lay down rules.
Nigeria e-hailing system is outside the scope of transportation laws, taking Lagos for example; the Lagos State law only recognized the branded and Unbranded car hire service, the Unbranded car hire service is synonymous to the e-hailing service of today.
The condition for Unbranded car hire in Lagos are;
1. Driver’s License
2. Operations license for each driver costing minimum of #100k
3. Driver badge
6. Commercials road worthiness
7. Comprehensive insurance
Without these aforementioned documents, taxi drivers will be considered as carrying out illegal business and if caught by law enforcement agencies like Police, VIS, Road Safety etc.; they will answer to the law.
When uber came into Nigeria in 2015 they consulted the drivers who are already in the Unbranded car hire service sector and unknown to the practitioners that the T&C did not support their business model, most subscribed to their apps without any agreement to secure their business.
E-HAILING is a very welcome technology innovation and it has moved the industry forward. But the drivers did a great mistake by not having a collective agreement to secure their business being the owners of the cars rendering services on these platforms.
The government soon realized that the e-hailing system has limited the number of licenses obtained per annual and it has increased the rate of insecurities in the state as drivers are not registered with the government and government could not get information about the riders.
In a bid to stop this, drivers started forming different WhatsApp and telegram groups, some were serious to register their group in order to unite the drivers while government started calling uber & bolt the 2 dominant app companies to come for regulation but unfortunately the app companies refuses to appear before the government as they keep re-iterating they are technology companies despite taking humongous commissions from the drivers, and still fix the price of the services. It’s a standing rule all over the world that whoever is rendering a service should be the one to fix the price of his/her goods and services.
The fact that app companies are the one dictating the price of this services being provided by drivers on their platforms allows the app companies to keep slashing down the fare of the service even at the time when inflation has increased to the tune of 300%, and price of spare parts, fuel and other goods has increased.
With the reduction in prices drivers could no longer have enough to maintain their business not to talk of savings for the future, couple with the unjustifiable blocking 0f the drivers, causing fleet partners to withdraw their cars from drivers and selling them off at a loss and this has left Fleet partner without choice than to join the drivers in the race to build a strong united body called “PROFESSIONAL E-HAILING DRIVERS AND PRIVATE-OWNERS ASSOCIATION (PEDPA)”.
PEDPA thrived among every other articulates groups and rise to become a voice to reckon with among others due to her liberation and driver centric ideas which has led other groups to pledge their allegiance to PEDPA in other to jointly have a common ground and formidable body for all drivers.
PEDPA is a registered association with corporate affairs commission CAC, and an affiliate of TUC (Trade Union Congress of Nigeria).
PEDPA STAND TALL in looking out for the Welfare’s and safety of its members and fight for those molested by riders, like the case of Mr. Emmanuel who was assaulted.
The E-hailing Drivers now require the following ID Cards:
3. Driver License
Vehicle Owners Require the following papers
4. Road worthiness
5. Car insurance
6. Private Hackney permit
App companies Require the following:
1. Operations license
2. Comprehensive insurance for drivers and riders during active trip
3. Drivers badge are to be given to drivers freely by app companies as ID card.
4. App companies are to synergize with relevant union.
5. App companies are to provide the government with the necessary data.
And with the above reviews, it is obvious that Lagos state government is truly determined to see a more secure and profitable e-hailing Transportation sub-sector and PEDPA as an association has truly taking the centre stage in defending the interest of its members amidst negotiation.
PEDPA will continue to fight for the interest of her members by ensuring its members always enjoys good welfare and appropriate security.
Comr. Idris Oluwaseun Shonuga Comr. nTitilayo Islamiyat Ajani
National president National secretary