Impounded vehicles: Uber says it is already sharing data with Lagos government, unsure about API integration

Ejike Kanife
…it seems the problem is with granting full access to its database via API integration.
Moove, Uber drivers in Nigeria are protesting against “slavery, extortion and unbearable working conditions”

As the Lagos State government commenced the confiscation of vehicles operating on the Uber app over the company’s failure to grant it access to its database via API integration, Uber says it is working closely with the government to find a lasting solution to the impasse.

The e-hailing company revealed this in response to a Technext query into the matter.

According to the company’s spokesperson, Uber is already sharing the required data with the Lagos State government daily through a secure and automated platform. But, the company is unclear about the requirements for real-time data sharing.

We have been in talks with the Lagos State Government regarding the requirements for data sharing. Currently, we share the required data daily with the government through a secure and automated platform and will be working closely with the government toward finding a lasting solution on API integration,” the spokesperson said.

However, it seems the problem is with granting full access to its database via API integration.

While the state government is demanding a full API integration that will allow their operatives to get real-time information about drivers and passengers in full detail, Uber appears intent on sharing only “required data” through a platform of their choosing.

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It is important to note that the Lagos State regulation for taxi-hailing that all players assented to, mandates that “all operators of e-hailing taxi services MUST give the ministry ACCESS to their database.”

While it did not require the ride-hailing companies to share their data, it mandates that the State’s Ministry of Transport have access to their databases.

Uber vehicle confiscation: A back story

Recall that Technext broke the news on Wednesday that The Lagos State Ministry of Transportation had started impounding vehicles belonging to e-hailing drivers operating on the Uber app. The reason for this was that the ride-hailing company refused to integrate its API with the state government’s so that they may have access to both drivers’ and riders’ data.

Read more here: Lagos government begins impounding Uber/Moove vehicles over failure to provide access to database

Moove Vehicles are particularly targeted partly because they are unique and it is common knowledge that they all operate on the company’s platform. 

According to drivers whose vehicles were impounded, the ministry adopted a Gestapo-styled tactic to lure them. One of the victims explained that the MOT officials operated by ordering a ride on the Uber app only to set upon the drivers who accepted, deflated their tyres and impounded their vehicles.

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An Uber driver used to illustrate the story

I came to Alausa to drop a passenger, and somebody ordered me. Thinking that it was a passenger, they tricked me into a compound, and before I knew what was happening they took the keys from me and deflated my tyres. I asked them what’s the problem and they said Uber has a problem with the government,” Sunday a Moove driver whose vehicle had been impounded said.

The story was further corroborated by the PRO of the Lagos State chapter of the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON), Comrade Iwindoye Steven. Comrade Steven, in a statement, said the Lagos State government, through the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), has initiated enforcement actions against Uber. 

According to the statement, the action is due to Uber’s refusal to provide API integration to the Lagos government from their users. The PRO went on to advise his comrades to ditch the Uber app until the issues between the company and the government are resolved.

“Despite multiple letters sent by the government, Uber has not complied, leading to the decision to enforce the arrest of Uber app users. As a responsible union, we aim to protect our members from the subjugation of this app company and the Lagos government. Therefore, we recommend temporarily ceasing the use of the Uber app,” the statement said.

Unfortunately, drivers, or driver partners as the companies like to call them are the ones bearing the direct brunt of the government’s manhunt. Not fewer than a dozen drivers have already had their vehicles impounded by the ministry. And the drivers, all of whom simply want to go about their normal business, are ruing their losses.

“If Uber has a problem with the government, we drivers are not to be affected. I’m not an Uber staff, I don’t work for Uber. I only use their app. So it’s surprising to me now that my vehicle is impounded, my tyres deflated, and nobody could actually explain the reason why this thing is happening to me,” Sunday said.

e-Hailing Drivers Begin Week-long Boycott of Uber and Bolt as Trip Fares Surge for Riders

However, the Uber spokesperson acknowledged the plight of the drivers and said the company is in timely communication with them.

“We are also sharing timely communication with affected drivers in order to provide any assistance and to ensure they are back on the road as soon as possible. We remain committed to raising the industry bar on mobility while being a good corporate citizen of Lagos State,” the spokesperson said.

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