Taxi drivers in Lagos have complained bitterly about how Uber operation is killing their own businesses in the state.
Jolted back to reality by the presence of this reporter having been dozing off for what appeared the whole day, Lawal Azeez sprang to his feet to make enquiries about this reporter’s intended destination.
Mr. Azeez was later joined by his colleagues, a group of old and middle-aged men. With desperation written boldly on their faces, they all scrambled amongst themselves to gain the attention of this reporter, whom they had erroneously identified as a potential passenger..
But the reporter’s response, detailing his mission at the park, would later dash their hope, and they all wobbled back to their respective positions, awaiting the arrival of another passenger.
Mr. Azeez, 49, and his colleagues are taxi operators. But like others at the taxi park located around the Central Business District, CBD, Ikeja, their business has been disrupted by the activities of Uber operators.
Uber is an internet-enabled, relatively stress-free transportation system that allows passengers order for cabs wherever they are at fairly cheaper cost. The system, which started around 2014, has been widely accepted by internet-savvy Nigerians who prefer it for comfort and safety purposes.
“Ah, Uber people have spoilt business for us; I must confess,” said a disgruntled Mr. Azeez, when probed by PREMIUM TIMES.
“To be frank, I didn’t make a kobo yesterday. These days, in a whole week, you may not get N5,000…which wasn’t the situation before now,” he lamented.
When asked to give a rough estimate of how much he used to make daily before the alleged ‘disruption’ by Uber drivers, the Ogun State-born taxi driver said he couldn’t give an exact estimate.
“But I know we make something in the region of ten-thousand plus daily on the average,” he said.
“But as I speak to you, if you make N5,000, you must thank your stars. You, too, must have noticed it from the atmosphere here… imagine how everywhere appears deserted.”
Mr. Azeez’s position was corroborated by another Taxi operator at the Ikeja CBD, Hassan Murphy.
Mr. Murphy, 43, explained that the activities of Uber drivers have been a source of sorrow for them as they no longer get patronage like they did in the past.
“If you notice, there are many taxis on ground here and their owners aren’t here. They’ve all gone home out of anger,” he said.
“Many of them have been here for hours without seeing any passenger; they had to go.”
Mr. Murphy, who claimed to have built a house from his taxi transport business, also lamented that the development has taken a toll on his responsibilities among family members and at the home front.
“These days, people I used to give N20,000 in the past would count themselves lucky if I give them N3,000.
“It has become so bad here in this park that in a whole week, it may not get to your turn to pick up passengers,” he said.
“That’s apart from the fact that we pay dues too. They tax us N200 daily and N1,000 weekly, despite the poor patronage.”
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