Uber and Bolt drivers, still dealing with the pains of a previous fuel price increase occasioned by a fuel subsidy removal back in May, have been dealt yet another blow as fuel price is reported to have increased even further.
According to several reports, the NNPC filling stations in Abuja have adjusted their pump prices to now sell for N617 per litre. This is up from N539 per litre, which is a difference of N78 and indicates a 14.5% increase.
Although there has been no confirmation of an increase in Lagos, reports have it that an increase of around N80 which would bring the fuel price to between N560-N570 per litre, is in the offing. There are reports of fuel stations selling for as much as N580 per litre.
Possibly nowhere would the adverse effects of this fuel hike be more felt than in the transportation sector. This will be even more so for Uber and Bolt drivers, who offer a more high-end means of transportation to folks who can afford it.
And the drivers are already groaning under the weight of the additional burden of the price they have to bear, with several describing it as the final straw. One driver, Major, told Technext that he had parked his car and is now focusing on his other businesses.
“You’re telling me about gain when I have already parked my car and focused on my other businesses? I have other businesses. I will just focus on them. And I advise other drivers to look for something else to do because, with this new fuel price, it will be full slavery,” he said.
Indeed the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade, confirmed that with the new hike in fuel prices, many app drivers will be forced to abandon the business because it would simply no longer be profitable given the current rates.
“If the fuel price jumps up to N560/litre, many app drivers would park their cars because even now app drivers have not been getting good money. We just managed to survive from hand to mouth as app companies have refused to increase the fares to 200%,” Comrade Ayoade said.
Another driver, Yahaya, said his strategy is to combine app trips with offline trips now. According to him, he now does just about 2 or 3 short trips from Uber or Bolt daily to maintain a presence while he moves the rest offline. He said he already has customers whom he offers bespoke services but at a more favourable price. He met these customers on the e-hailing platforms.
Another driver, Obadiah, noted that while he’s concerned about his welfare because the new fares will be the last straw that will break his back as far as the e-hailing business is concerned, Uber and Bolt themselves will be hit this time unless they accept a slash in their commission.
“Uber and Bolt including others will soon leave Nigeria except they have to drop their ego and reduce their percentage to 10%,” Obadiah told Technext.
Fuel price hikes have all but crippled Uber and Bolt business in 2023
Following the previous fuel hike in May, drivers on e-hailing platforms boycotted the Uber and Bolt apps in protest against the companies’ refusal to implement a commensurate increase in the fares they charge riders. The drivers, through the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), demanded a 270% increase in fares and a reduction of their commission to a flat rate of 10%.
When the app companies eventually increased their ride fares, they weren’t anything close to what the drivers demanded. Neither did they do anything about their commissions which remained as before. But the drivers eventually called off their strike after 10 days following intervention from the Ministry of Labour.
It remains to be seen how Uber and Bolt will react to this new price increase which many analysts suspect won’t be the last. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the idea of slashing their commissions, not just for the sake of the drivers but for the sake of their very own survival in the Nigerian market.
The AUATWON General Secretary said his union is monitoring the situation closely and very soon will come up with its next line of action.
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