Ride-hailing apps have become a popular transportation option in Lagos, Nigeria. But for the drivers behind the wheels, the experience hasn’t always been positive. The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON), a registered trade union with a large membership of ride-hailing drivers in Lagos, is pushing for increased regulation of the industry to address several key concerns.
Data-driven demands for fair pay
AUATON is calling for a collective agreement that tackles issues like low fares and high commission rates. While specific data on Lagos is limited, a national study by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that transportation costs across the country have been steadily rising. For instance, the NBS reported that the average fare paid by commuters for bus journeys within cities increased by 48.02% from ₦321.38 in February 2021 to ₦475.67 in February 2022. This suggests that drivers might not be receiving a fair share of the increasing fares paid by passengers. Furthermore, high commission rates charged by ride-hailing companies, often up to 25-30%, further eat into driver earnings, making it challenging for them to cover their operational costs and sustain their livelihoods. This suggests that drivers might not be receiving a fair share of the increasing fares paid by passengers. Another major concern is the lack of transparency surrounding driver deactivation. AUATON argues that ride-hailing companies currently hold too much power, deactivating drivers for seemingly arbitrary reasons. This can have a devastating impact on a driver’s income and ability to support themselves.
Safety and Security Concerns Go Beyond Income
Safety is a major concern for Lagos ride-hailing drivers, extending beyond financial worries. AUATON emphasizes the need for robust insurance plans that cover drivers, passengers, belongings, and the vehicles themselves. A survey by Research gate, in 2021 found that 30 out of 35 ride-hailing drivers in Lagos feel unsafe during their rides. Several news reports also highlight cases of drivers being attacked or even killed by passengers with criminal intent. Without proper insurance, these incidents can have devastating consequences for drivers and their families. Another concern for ride-hailing drivers is the lack of transparency surrounding deactivation from the platform. Currently, companies can deactivate drivers for seemingly arbitrary reasons, often without a clear explanation or right to appeal.

The ride-hailing proposal

The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON) is pushing for a collective agreement that would reshape the ride-hailing landscape in Lagos. Currently, ride-hailing companies have significant control over pricing. AUATON proposes setting minimum fares to ensure drivers receive a fairer share of the total cost paid by passengers. This would establish a baseline income and prevent companies from squeezing driver earnings through artificially low fares. Imagine a scenario where a passenger pays a high price for a ride during peak hours, but a large chunk of that goes to the ride-hailing company, leaving the driver with a minimal amount. Minimum fares would help address this imbalance.
Also, typically, ride-hailing companies charge drivers a commission on every completed ride. While this is their primary source of income, AUATON argues that current commission rates are too high. Capping these rates would mean more money stays in the pockets of drivers. This directly translates to improved driver livelihoods and potentially reduces driver turnover. When drivers feel they are being adequately compensated, they are more likely to remain on the platform, ensuring a consistent pool of drivers for passengers. AUATON is also proposing establishing a transparent and fair deactivation process. This would involve clear guidelines outlining the reasons for deactivation, a chance for drivers to defend themselves, and a potential appeals process. This would protect drivers from being unfairly penalized and losing their source of income.
AUATON emphasizes the need for comprehensive insurance plans that cover not only the vehicle but also the driver, passengers, and their belongings. This is especially crucial in light of reported incidents where drivers have been attacked or even killed by passengers with criminal intent. Moreover, robust safety protocols are essential. These could include measures like mandatory background checks for passengers, improved in-app safety features, and better access to emergency assistance for drivers. By prioritizing safety, AUATON aims to create a work environment where drivers feel secure and protected.

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