Uber Drivers Strike After South African Fares Cut by Fifth

Uber Technologies Inc. drivers went on strike in South Africa after the world’s biggest ride-booking service said tariffs in the country will be cut by as much as 20 percent to boost demand during the winter months.

About 200 Uber drivers stopped working and marched toward the company’s local offices in the Cape Town district of Greenpoint, according to news agency Eyewitness News. The tariffs are being cut to 6 rand ($0.36) per kilometer from 7 rand, it reported. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed the strike took place.

“Driver-partners know that they can speak to us at any time and there are a number of ways that partners can let us know if they have any individual concerns,” Uber said in an e-mailed response to questions about the strike.

The decision to cut prices follows a reduction in fares across 80 North American cities in January, also designed to increase demand in a seasonally slow month. Drivers will profit from the move as well as passengers, as the price cut will increase the number of available rides, San Francisco-based Uber said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday. That’s what happened when fares were reduced in Warsaw, Istanbul, Perth and Lagos, the company said.

Uber, which has a presence in 65 countries and is valued at about $60 billion, operates in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban and has doubled its passenger numbers in the country roughly every six months since starting the service in 2013. The company also operates in Nigeria and Kenya and is set to expand to Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania, Alon Lits, the general manager of Uber Africa, said in an interview last week.

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