Lagos Airport parking: e-hailing drivers threaten strike over N45,000 fee, wearing Bolt-crested uniforms

Ejike Kanife
In 2022, the authority reportedly allocated an airport parking space to e-hailing drivers, a parking space which Bolt monopolised
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Uber and Bolt drivers protest

Nigeria’s e-hailing union, the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria have threatened a strike action in protest against a directive mandating e-hailing drivers to pay a fee of 45,000 naira for airport parking. The directive was reportedly issued by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). This was revealed in a letter sent to the Minister of Aviation over the matter.

In the letter signed by the union president, Adedamola Adeniran and Acting General Secretary, Alice Odibo, the union also condemned what it describes as “Bolt uniform wearing,” calling it an insensitive ploy by the taxi app company to monopolise the car e-hailing market system.

The letter noted that AUATON’s Constitution declares that its membership base comprises self-employed workers, which means drivers have some control over how they conduct business with ride-hailing companies like Bolt, Uber, InDrive etc.

The members of AUATON in Lagos State are completely dissatisfied with this proposed policy and on their behalf, we write to you to convey our unwillingness to accept this new practice. For this reason, we appeal for the convening of an emergency meeting with your organization and our union, in other to prevent an ‘indefinite airport strike at the Lagos airport or a protest’ that would ultimately disrupt operations of the airport. We believe that there are better ways to improve and protect public security and that the decision to impose uniform wearing and additional payments on drivers is a system that favours a particular business entity (Bolt) and should be regarded as a monopolization of the market system,” the union said.

The union is therefore proposing that a meeting be scheduled as soon as possible to put a halt to the “perceived Dracula and insensitive Lagos State Airport policy” before the proposed commencement of implementation date of July 15.

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The union also expressed its willingness to discuss a proper alternative approach. In this new approach put together by its Central Working Committee, the AUATON is proposing that the Federal Ministry of Aviation rent out an airport car parking space for its members in exchange for a daily token payment.

This would allow the driver to park for a while and pick up and drop off passengers at the Lagos Airport.

The Union will remit daily to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria on each member that is allocated space for pick up. This approach will take the control out of the hands of a particular business (Bolt), and leave the system in the hands of Union’s representatives to be regulated by FAAN. With this approach, we believe the airport system of e-hailing will not just be controlled by one business entity but will be controlled by FAAN, and the workers will be supervised by the Union in line with the instructions of the FAAN. This way, other platforms such as Uber, Rida, Indrive and other entities can also compete within the market system,” the letter reads.

Genesis of the airport parking problem for e-hailing drivers

Picking up passengers from the airport has been a major source of business for taxi drivers from time immemorial. This was no different for e-hailing drivers. However, the airport authorities already have a system of approved taxi drivers to pick up passengers around the airport vicinity.

It is important to note that these exclusive airport taxi operators charge exorbitant fares for their services. At one point, there were calls by travellers to replace airport taxis with Uber and Bolt drivers.

See also: Passengers ask FAAN to replace Abuja Airport taxis with Bolt and Uber

In 2022, the airport authority reportedly allocated a parking space to e-hailing drivers, a parking space which Bolt cashed in on and secured the space, according to the Southwest Regional Chairman of AUATON, Kolawole Aina in a chat with this reporter.

Remember two years ago 2022, when a directive came from FAAN that Uber drivers too should get a park at the Airport. Uber didn’t respond to them positively but Bolt secured the park. Hence our members have been using the bolt car park ever since then,” he said.

He also explained that to operate around the Airport as an e-hailing driver, they were required to go to Alagbon to undergo a biometric check. they will then be issued a police character certificate that would be presented to the Directorate of Aviation Security (AVSEC) before getting an identity card and the final approval to pick up riders from the Airport.

Lagos Airport parking: e-hailing drivers threaten strike over N45,000 fee, Bolt-crested uniforms

But it seems all that is no longer enough as they are now reportedly being compelled to pay another 45,000 naira and wear a Bolt-branded uniform, even though they operate across various other apps like Uber, InDrive, Rida etc. The VP advised the FAAN to charge their costs to the app companies and not the drivers.

All attempts by this reporter to reach FAAN’s Freedom of Information desk proved abortive as calls made to the desk officer, Agwagah Ikechukwu went unanswered. The reporter also reached out to Bolt for reactions and a Bolt spokesperson said:

Unfortunately, we can’t comment on this issue at the moment. The airport is one of the most sensitive grounds in Nigeria and it is independently governed by FAAN and they have the highest security protocols. So, if they have come up with new security measures and regulations, we have to comply with them. And we don’t have control over their decisions which is why commenting on their rules can be quite sensitive.”

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