One of the world’s most valuable technology start-ups, Uber, an online taxi service app, is currently having a bumpy ride in London, where it was recently stripped of its license to operate because of a series of public safety and security challenges. This new development in London came as a deadly blow to the eight-year-old company, and if the crisis is not carefully managed, it might translate to the end of business for Uber, not just in the European hub, but in every city where people are beginning to express serious concerns about the company’s aggressive culture and the app’s safety.
Since Uber began operations, it has faced the same kinds of crises in different cities. The current heat in London sets the tone for other cities to halt Uber’s operation if the company does not make necessary adjustments. British capital’s transport authority said that Uber lacks corporate responsibility and undermines public safety and security. Therefore, it is not ‘fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license’.
In Lagos, Nigeria, a lot of people have had a fair share of scary experiences about Uber’s operations, and the government needs to check not just Uber, but all start-ups offering similar services, so that they put measures in place to ensure the safety of users.
There are escalating court cases of assaults, rape, murder and law violation against Uber worldwide. Worse still, Uber is notorious for its poor crisis management strategies in addressing incessant cases of theft, rape, assault and even murder.
Very recently, an Uber driver was among six suspects arrested for alleged involvement in the murder of the former Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS) winner, Hector Jobarteh. One Igana, the Uber driver reportedly drove the gunmen to Hector’s house, where the murder took place.
A Nigerian lady narrated her experience of getting robbed by an Uber driver in Lagos. According to her, valuables including jewellery, phones worth 1M were taken away. As shared:
“I got robbed on Tuesday the 27th of June using uber in Lagos. The driver took me off my route to a very lonely dark spot. He had enough time to leave the place. He just stopped the car meanwhile the engine was still running.
A guy emerged from nowhere peeping into the car I told him dis guy is dangerous please leave. He looked at the guy and kept on looking at his phone. The bad guy came with another guy smashed both the windows from behind the left and right respectively. I sustained multiple cuts. They went away with my valuables.
Uber is saying they ain’t going to compensate me for my loss and horrific experience. I had to arrest the Uber driver, the case is in court’.
‘Uber is a win win organisation. Just for the money. If you use Uber and calamity struck. You are on your own. Beware of Uber Nigeria. I’m lucky to be alive. I am still weighing my option on how to make a case with Uber.
Uber ought to take adequate measure in ensuring the drivers are well trained and make proper background check on the drivers. Failure to do do they ought to be accountable. I am left with nothing but pain and sorrow. My crime was that I used Uber.”
Another lady identified as Motosinoluwa got more than she bargained for in an Uber taxi in Somolu area of Lagos. Motosinoluwa said the Uber driver simply identified as Olatunbosun pulled her hair, gave her a butt slap and twisted her finger after he dropped her halfway for complaining about the way he was driving.
Uber was temporarily banned in Spain. In Paris, it faced six charges for running illegally and violating data privacy laws. In New Delhi, Uber was suspended for a few weeks after one of its drivers was accused of rape.
In Portland, Oregon where Uber was banned, Uber started using a controversial software called ‘Greyball’ to operate and dodge law enforcement. There is a criminal probe currently going on in the US Department of Justice on this software that cannot be monitored by regulators.
In Brisbane, a 37-year-old Uber driver raped a 16-year-old girl, weeks after another driver was charged with raping a passenger three times. Police said the two cases are not related.
Uber operates in about 700 cities and has come under fire for failing to conduct proper background checks on its drivers, and failing to respond to reported cases. Following London’s decision to ban Uber, there might be more crisis in store for the company even in Nigeria.
London’s declaration comes only weeks after Uber appointed a new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, to help repair the company’s damaged reputation and engender in a new era of ‘corporate responsibility and maturity’.
Withdrawal of its license in London will have serious consequences, as London is one of Uber’s leading market, with over 40,000 active drivers and an estimated 3.5million users. Although, using technology to solve transportation challenges is highly commendable, London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed that “innovative services must not be at the expense of safety and security”.
Although the new CEO seem to be taking some steps in the right direction, especially with his timely and well-thought letter of apology to London, the future of the company might be very bleak if it does not change its approach to transparency and safety. Uber is gradually becoming a nightmare worldwide. Most of their drivers are into robbery and all sorts of crime.