Rising Fuel Prices and Soaring Spare Part Costs Compound the Challenges Faced by App-Based Transport Workers
E-hailing drivers, represented by the Amalgamated Union Of App-Based Transport Workers Of Nigeria (AUATWON), have embarked on a widespread strike to protest against the prevailing low fares in the industry.
The strike, which commenced on Wednesday, also highlights the drivers’ grievances regarding the exorbitant commission rates imposed by Uber and Bolt, the dominant ride-hailing service providers in Nigeria.
This mass demonstration occurs against the backdrop of escalating petrol pump prices in Africa’s largest economy following the government’s decision to eliminate subsidy payments on fuel. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited recently raised the price of petrol from N185 to over N500 at its retail outlets, triggering a significant surge in the cost of goods and services across the nation.
According to insiders familiar with the matter, the strike was initiated after a brief meeting held in Lagos. Expressing their discontent, one source stated, “The strike is on. Bolt still maintains a 25 per cent commission with just a nominal N100 increment amidst the current petrol price hike. Some drivers are buying fuel as high as N600 per litre and as low as N550. The fares we earn are nothing to write home about, particularly given the traffic congestion in Lagos. So the strike has begun. However, drivers with personal obligations can continue taking offline ride requests.”
Azeez, a driver participating in the strike, emphasized the adverse economic conditions faced by the drivers. He revealed that the cost of spare parts has risen by a staggering 300 per cent in the past four months. Azeez shared his own experience, stating, “I purchased fuel for N13,500 on Sunday, and I earned N21,200 from a trip. Bolt took N5,300 as their commission, leaving me with N15,900. After deducting the fuel cost, I am left with only N2,400, and I drove for approximately eight hours that day. Just imagine, if my car were to break down or if I had an emergency, would N2,400 be sufficient to address the situation?”
In an official statement released on Wednesday, AUATWON voiced their concerns about the recent removal of fuel subsidies, which resulted in a staggering 270 per cent increase in petrol prices. They also highlighted the unjust 25 per cent commission charge imposed on each trip, stating that these factors have rendered their business and investments unprofitable. The association emphasized the drivers’ struggle for survival and their inability to cope with the current situation.
Consequently, the drivers have presented their demands, which include a 200 per cent fare increase and a 50 per cent reduction in commission rates. They are also calling for an end to the arbitrary deactivation of drivers and the implementation of open collective bargaining with AUATWON.
Although the drivers have communicated their demands to the app-based transportation companies, their pleas have gone unanswered.
In light of this, the association urges fleet managers, driver-partners, and app-based transport workers throughout Nigeria to fully support this strike and recognize the necessity to withdraw their services during the protest. They further request that all drivers operating on rental or higher purchase agreements be granted a moratorium or waiver.
This collective action is a solid demonstration of unity among stakeholders in order to safeguard their investments as fleet managers, protect their livelihoods as workers, and secure their jobs as app-based drivers.
The drivers firmly believe that these efforts will pave the way for an improved and profitable industry that benefits all those involved.