It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Uber. Last week, protests in Paris by French taxi drivers against UberPop turned violent, with fights breaking out in the streets and cars being overturned, and earlier this week Uber claimed Cape Town authorities have impounded 200 Uber cars.
Now, the transportation network company has made claims that its drivers are being discriminated against by Cape Town police on the basis of their nationality.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Uber Africa’s Samantha Allenberg said that Uber drivers in Cape Town have said that they’ve experience xenophobic treatment from police and that they face lengthy waits for licensing permits.
“Many of our partner drivers say they have been stopped by law enforcement officers who first determine that the driver is not originally from South Africa,” Allenberg said. “[They] then start demanding to see the Uber application on their smartphone.”
Allenberg said Uber’s Cape Town drivers were also running into difficulties in their efforts to get operating permits for their vehicles. She said that 800 drivers were awaiting approval by the city of Cape Town and that some applications had taken more than six months to process.
In a text to Bloomberg, Cape Town’s City Councillor for Safety and Security, JP Smith, played down the claims of harassment by authorities.
“It was one Uber driver that made the claim against one traffic official,” Smith wrote. “We have taken the officer off the road pending further investigation.”
Allenberg said that while Uber is pleased that action was being taken against the officer their driver reported, the company was still of the opinion that “many of our driver partners are targeted first for their nationality.”[Source: Bloomberg]