Union raises alarm over arrest of Uber drivers, vehicle impoundment

The Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON), Lagos State Council has raised the alarm over the impoundment of vehicles and arrest of their members operating with ehailing services firm, Uber, by the state’s Ministry of Transportation (MOT).

While calling on Lagos State to stop arresting its members, the union recommended a temporary suspension of the use of the Uber app until the service provider reconciles with the government.

The state’s Public Relations Officer of AUATON, Steven Iwindoye, yesterday, said the Lagos State government, through the Ministry of Transportation (MOT), has initiated enforcement actions against the company.

He lamented that the latest clampdown was due to the e-hailing company’s refusal to integrate its Application Programming Interface (API) with the state government’s so that they may have access to the company’s database which includes information about drivers and riders alike.

He said that Move vehicles are particularly targeted because they are unique and it is common knowledge that they all operate on the Uber platform.

“Despite multiple letters sent by the government, Uber has not complied, leading to the decision to enforce the arrest of Uber app users. As a responsible union, we aim to protect our members from the subjugation of this app company and the Lagos government. Therefore, we recommend temporarily ceasing the use of the Uber app,” he said.

The PRO also advised members to ditch the company’s app until the issues between the company and the government are resolved.

He said the API, which has to do with the sharing of real-time transactions and movement for security and safety purposes, has other apps that have complied except Uber, thereby allowing the act to affect their members across Lagos State.

To this end, he urged that the government should shut down Uber offices and their servers rather than arrest innocent drivers trying to make ends meet.

According to drivers whose vehicles were impounded, the ministry adopted a Gestapo-styled tactic to lure them.

One of the victims explained that the MOT officials operated by ordering rides on the Uber platform only to set upon the drivers who accepted the rides, deflate their tyres and impound their vehicles.

According to Sunday, a Moove driver, using the Uber app whose vehicle has been impounded: “I came to Alausa to drop a passenger, and somebody ordered me. Thinking that it was a passenger, they tricked me into a compound, and before I knew what was happening, they took the keys from me and deflated my tyres. I asked them what’s the problem and they said Uber has a problem with the government.”

Efforts to reach out to Uber for comments proved abortive as calls placed were not picked up at the time of filing the report.

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