Dhaka’s Uber drivers warn of more protests if demands not met

A Bangladeshi man tries to book a ride with the Uber application of his smart phone, in Dhaka. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2019

Dhaka’s Uber drivers warn of more protests if demands not met

  • Push for increase in base fare, reducing commission from 25% to 12%


DHAKA: Uber drivers in Bangladesh said on Tuesday that they would launch more protests if the authorities failed to meet the demands highlighted in a nine-point program.

It follows a day-long protest staged by the drivers’ union of the popular ride-sharing service and the Bangladesh drivers’ association on Monday.

The nine demands from Uber drivers include an increase in the basic fare, fixing the fare per kilometer and reducing Uber’s commission from 25 percent to 12 percent.

Uber drivers are also pressing for trips to be assigned under the “Destination” option in the app, ensuring the security of drivers; compensating drivers if passengers damage the vehicles; taking action against drivers only after a thorough investigation of complaints; and making it compulsory for passengers to provide their image in their Uber accounts.

“We had two meetings with the Uber authorities in Dhaka last August and September to realize our demands but there was no result. So finding no other alternative, we observed the 24-hour strike on Uber service,” Belal Ahmed, secretary of the Dhaka ride-sharing drivers’ union, told Arab News.

“We are now observing the initiatives taken by the Uber Bangladesh management in regard to our demands. If they don’t listen to us we will announce fresh tougher programs within the next couple of days,” Ahmed said.

San Francisco-based ride-sharing company Uber launched its operations in Dhaka in November 2016, making it the first ride-sharing company to provide its services there.

Other local operators — Pathao, Shohoz, O Bhai, O Car, Car Bangla, Pick me — followed soon after by offering services in the cities of Dhaka, Chottogram and Sylhet.

“We want a perfect ‘way bill’ for our trips which we don’t get in some cases due to technical problems in the Uber app. In these cases, we had enjoyed an adjustment from Uber which has been stopped for the past five months causing a huge loss for the drivers,” Shamim Hossain, president of the Bangladesh ride-sharing drivers’ association, told Arab News.

Justifying the drivers’ demand to reduce the commission given to Uber, Hossain said that all other local ride-sharing operators charged only 15-20 percent commission.

“Uber is not investing in the cars. As an app service provider, they are just bridging the passengers and drivers and charging 25 percent of our income, which is very high,” Hossain said.

Commuters in Dhaka expressed their dissatisfaction over the drivers’ protest.

“The drivers can’t take the passengers as hostage to realize their demand in any situation. It’s a service- oriented issue and drivers should act in a more rational way,” Monowara Begum, 36, an employee of a corporate house in Dhaka, told Arab News.

“We have become dependent on Uber services as they are the most reliable and available. So, both the parties should find a sustainable solution to mitigate the crisis. This sort of strike cases huge disruption in our daily lives,” Momin Ullah, 49, a businessman of Dhaka, told Arab News.

The Uber Bangladesh authority did not comment when contacted by Arab News. A statement released by Uber Bangladesh on Monday read: “We regret the disruption caused to the rider and driver-partner community, due to a small group of individuals. We strive to provide reliable and safe transport options to get around the city and hope to minimize any distress caused.”

“We are committed to providing reliable, convenient and safe transport options to our riders, while providing access to flexible income opportunities for our driver partners. We always prioritize the wellbeing of our driver-partners and have processes in place to address concerns and issues through our Partner Sheba Kendras and in-App feedback,” it said.

Uber operates in more than 550 cities around the world.

Sri Lanka sees record turnout in final fight for presidency

Updated 52 min 44 sec ago

Sri Lanka sees record turnout in final fight for presidency

  • The two main contenders for the presidency are Sajith Premadasa, from the New Democratic Front (NDF) and Gotabaya Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.(SLPP)
  • The first postal vote results will be announced before midnight on Saturday

COLOMBO: A record high of 80 percent of the total 16 million voters exercised their right at 12,845 polling booths across Sri Lanka in the country’s presidential election on Saturday.

Hambantota saw the highest turnout among the districts at 85 percent, while the Mannar district was the lowest with 62 percent.

The two main contenders for the presidency are Sajith Premadasa, from the New Democratic Front (NDF) and Gotabaya Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.(SLPP).

“We have polled more than 80 percent in our stronghold districts in the southern part of the island and we are heading for a comfortable victory,” Ali Sabry, chief legal officer to Rajapaksa, told Arab News.

“We have always lived in a democracy. We have guarded it and strengthened it over the decades, proud that so many Sri Lankans have fulfilled their civic responsibility by voting today,” Premadasa said.

The authorities had started counting the postal votes at 5.15 p.m. after polls closed. Postal votes were taken in advance by government officers.

The first postal vote results will be announced before midnight on Saturday, according to an Election Commission official.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence reported that a total of 196 violations had been recorded so far. The majority of those were incidents of intimidation, attempts at influencing and illegal campaigning. One shooting was also reported.

Gunmen attacked a bus carrying internally displaced refugees near the road connecting Puttalam and Mannar. Rishath Bathiudeen, minister of industry and commerce, told Arab News the attack was to prevent the refugees from voting. “However, the timely intervention of the security authorities helped these people cast their votes without any (further) hassle,” he said.

Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya said that there had been no incidents of serious violence on Saturday, and commended the security services.

Deshapriya also said that he would be able to announce the final result of the polls by Sunday evening

The outgoing president, Mathripala Sirisena, said: “Although my achievements are not tangible in a materialistic sense, I was able to ensure freedom, democracy and governance without corruption.”

In his final address to the nation, the outgoing president added he was proud to have uphold democracy during his tenure. He said that the biggest challenge the new president would face would be appointing a cabinet free of corrupt members.