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.


Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police

Updated 5 min 36 sec ago

Anger as white woman reports black birdwatcher in Central Park to police

NEW YORK: A video of a white woman calling the police about a black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park has gone viral, sparking anger about African Americans being falsely reported to cops.
The clip, posted on Twitter and viewed 30 million times, was filmed by the man, Christian Cooper, who said he had asked the woman to leash her dog.
She was walking the pooch on Monday in a wooded area of the park popular with birdwatchers where dogs are meant to be kept on leads.
As the woman struggles to control the dog, she approaches Cooper and is then seen making a phone call.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she tells Cooper while appearing to dial 911.
“There is an African-American man, I’m in Central Park. He’s recording me and threatening me and threatening my dog,” she then tells the operator.
The exchange prompted outrage on social media, with users calling the woman a “Karen,” a term popular online to describe an entitled white woman.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio condemned her actions as “racism, plain and simple.”
“She called the police BECAUSE he was a Black man. Even though she was the one breaking the rules. She decided he was the criminal and we know why. This kind of hatred has no place in our city,” he tweeted.
The woman was identified as Amy Cooper, no relation to the man she argued with. She worked in insurance at investment management company Franklin Templeton.
She apologized during an interview with NBC but denied that she was racist, saying she had overreacted after feeling threatened.
“I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” she said.
In a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday, Franklin Templeton said it had fired an employee with immediate effect following an investigation.
“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” the company said.
On Facebook, Christian Cooper said he had offered the dog a treat after the woman refused his request to leash the dog.
“That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn,” he wrote.