Should Nigeria follow suit as Uber loses operating license in London?

Where does Nigeria stand as Uber has lost its license to operate in London over fake identity of drivers which places the lives of passengers at risk? The ride-hailing company lost its license renewal appeal and it’s for good reasons although the decision might affect over 50,000 Uber drivers.

Uber has been facing several issues which border on security in London. The company battled with fake identities by its drivers which resulted in tax avoidance by the ghost drivers. Some Uber drivers with fake identification reportedly operated 14,000 trips.

How fake drivers avoided detection: The unregistered drivers had uploaded their photos on other drivers’ uber accounts, the Guardian UK reported. This enabled them to pick the passengers rather than the properly registered drivers. This, according to Transport for London, threatens the lives of passengers.

According to the report, the drivers – 43 of them – were discovered three weeks ago. Some of them lost their license due to their involvement, while another driver was only caused for distributing indecent images of children. Uber has 3.5 million riders depending on over 40,000 licensed drivers in London; all of whom might be out of work if the rejection stands.

Not the first license rejection: This is not the first time Uber’s license will be rejected. In September 2017, Uber’s application for license renewal was rejected, it, however, got a 15-month license from the court to continue operation after appealing the decision.

Rejection won’t stop Uber’s operation: Despite losing approval to continue operation for the second time, Uber can still operate. The rejection doesn’t take effect immediately, so Uber will remain in business in London, but the company needs to appeal the decision within the next 21-days if it intends to continue operation.

Although the Transport for London said Uber has improved its security since the ride-hailing firm reported the security breaches, it, however, doesn’t trust Uber is capable of resolving the situation. But Uber has promised to appeal the decision because it has changed its business model.

“We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last two years, we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London,” Uber’s Chief Executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said in a Tweet.

The Nigerian factor: When Uber first launched in Nigeria, it was Lagos it made it first touchdown. Uber recorded 30% more rides after its first 16 months in Lagos than it did in London. It is believed to have grown more than that since then, although there are now more competitors – like Bolt (Taxify), Ocar and other smaller rivals – than when it debuted.

But the security issues being faced in London is same in Nigeria’s ride-hailing market. The person that registers on these car-hailing apps might not be the one driving the car as some employ drivers to manage their Uber business on commission. Also, drivers on some occasions operate offline trips, making it difficult to monitor and regulate their movement.

This kind of trip places the lives of the passenger(s) at risk because if any incident occurs involving the driver, he or she (driver) will be unidentifiable or can’t be traced via Uber map. One of the motivating factors behind offline trips is poor payment and commission earned by drivers.

Nigeria is one of the biggest ride-hailing market in Africa with over 100 million youth/adult population, so, it’s important for Nigeria’s Ministry of Transportation to also prioritise the safety of passengers like London did by ensuring ride-hailing companies apply measures that curb offline trips, and also ensure third-party employment is properly registered by the ride-hailing companies.

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