Uber has finally reduced its controversial 25% service fee on drivers’ earnings to 20%, ending years of back and forth between the hailing taxi giant and its drivers in Ghana.
In a statement, the company said “You can be your own boss by driving with Uber! We are also pleased to announce that Uber’s Service fee will now be 20% and NOT 25%!!!! This means that you can now earn even more by signing up to drive with us.”
This comes after many years of agitation among Uber drivers in Ghana, and across the world, which led to several Ghanaian Uber drivers going on a strike in 2018, but Uber still failed to heed to their cry.
In a number of engagements with journalists, Uber maintained that its fees are uniform across the world and the revenue from the fees are used to improve the app for the comfort and safety of both drivers and riders.
Uber took a very entrenched position, insisting that drivers were under no obligation to keep using the Uber app, and that, they could check out of it and choose alternative apps, or even turn their vehicles into regular offline taxi.
Meanwhile, in other jurisdictions, some drivers secured court rulings against Uber, and the rulings stated that indeed drivers were employees of Uber and Uber had obligations towards the drivers as an employer.
In one such cases in Kenya, Uber Kenya hid behind the mother company, Uber BV, registered in Amsterdam, and claimed that the drivers signed contracts with the mother company and not with Uber Kenya, so Uber Kenya could not be held liable for anything regarding the drivers in Kenya.
But the court noted that both the mother company and Uber Kenya had the same addresses and were using the same lawyer in court so they cannot pretend to be separate entities.
In Ghana, drivers have always complained about the high fees and also about the fact that Uber offers heavy discounts to riders without informing the drivers and yet they still take their 25% from the discounted fares.
Meanwhile, on a regular day, when there are no discounts, Uber’s rider fares began to get higher compared to what competition charged.
This led to some amount of media interest in the Uber-driver relationship. But Uber staff in Ghana adopted the posture of not responding to any media enquiries, and referring all matters to a PR person in Nigeria and later in South Africa for redress.
Bolt and other hailing taxis took advantage of Uber’s high fees from drivers and rising fares and they offered lower fees for drivers and much lower fares.
As a result, Bolt in particular now dominates the local market even though Uber was the maiden player in the space, and Yango is becoming stronger because they give better offers than Uber.
The result of that is, lots of drivers completely deleted the Uber app from their phones and many of those who still keep the app, switch it off for greater part of the day, while accepting requests on Bolt and Yango.
The reduction of the driver fees to 20% on Uber might be a game changer as it equals what the current market leader, Bolt charges.
There are over 15,000 drivers connected to hailing taxis services in Ghana, and Uber boast of an estimated 10,000 plus using its app.