JOHANNESBURG – A violent feud between South African meter taxi drivers and ride-hailing services Uber and Taxify escalated with another three vehicles torched using petrol bombs, police said on Thursday.
Drivers for Uber and Estonian start-up Taxify operating in Johannesburg and capital Pretoria have faced threats and protests from regular taxi operators who accuse the app-based drivers of poaching customers with cheaper fares.
One Uber vehicle and two other taxis were torched last week in the upmarket Sandton district and on Wednesday three Taxify vehicles were set alight in the Pretoria suburb of Sunnyside.
Police said in one incident on Wednesday a Taxify driver responding to a pick-up request was cornered by a group of eight men who threatened him with violence just as he arrived at the location.
“The vehicle was alight after he had alighted from it. Another Taxify vehicle was set on fire at a different location. One of the vehicles was burnt out completely, while the second on had slight damages,” said police Captain Daniel Mavimbela.
Mavimbela said the identity of the suspects had yet to be established.
More than 6,000 vehicles use the e-hailing Uber application to find customers in South Africa, where the service has grown swiftly as public transport has not kept up with the rising population in sprawling cities.