― Friedrich Nietzsche, the German Philosopher
Like CityCab in Singapore, Uber is a transportation network company. It was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in San Francisco. However, there is one large difference between Uber and other major transportation companies—its drivers are not licensed to drive taxicabs.
Also, Uber drivers are able to log in and off the Uber system whenever they want, strategically allocating their work hours. Compared to the drivers of other transportation companies, Uber workers are granted better freedom and flexibility. Also, the quality of their services is daily rated by their customers, and this system allows Uber to effectively filter out unprofessional drivers, who might lower its brand image. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber company’s value reached $51 billion dollars on July 31st, 2015. While Facebook took seven years to accomplish this feat, Uber took about five years; such achievement is unprecedented.
However, not everyone appreciates Uber. Numerous licensed taxi drivers now hold deep contempt towards it. For those whose main income sources are driving cabs, Uber is nothing but a giant parasite. As Uber grows, their earnings gradually decrease due to the increase in supply of transporters and thus, competition. This will continue to result in mental distress and insecurity on taxi drivers, forcing them to work longer hours to at least earn as much as they did before Uber entered the market. Moreover, there are rumours, in which Uber drivers’ average earnings are higher than those of licensed taxi drivers by 6 US dollars. Although their credibility still have not been substantiated, they are creating high tension among rival transportation companies and their labourers. Although many of us had been aware of this shaky situation, nobody was able to anticipate the outrageous conflicts it would brew in 2015.
The scale of protests against Uber drivers went out of control in 2015, when Uber broke Facebook’s $50 billion record. Worldwide, the number of taxi wars dramatically shot up. In September 2015, the black cab union in London brought London to a standstill, blocking roads from Waterloo Bridge, the Strand, Fleet Street and to Piccadilly Circus by congesting the road with approximately 1500 black cabs; in October 2015, a group of furious local taxi drivers in Malaysia ambushed the Uber driver’s vehicle and threatened to destroy it. Another famous protest is local French drivers’ aggressive physical ambush on Uber drivers, including a man who was driving for Courtney Love— a 50-year-old actress and singer. According to her, the protesters vandalized Uber cars with metal bats, took drivers as hostages and even flipped some of their cars. Fortunately, she was able to escape with the help of two motorists; later on, she tweeted, “This is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad.”
The astounding number of crime cases, in which Uber drivers either kidnapped or robbed and sexually assaulted their customers, is certainly not ameliorating the problem. In India, there even have been incidents, in which the Uber drivers deliberately exposed his genitals or masturbated in front of their customers. If this conflict does not end soon, Uber, Uber’s competitors, their workers, and countries’ economies will all suffer severely.
Fearing the previously mentioned outcome, several countries, such as China, and Berlin, have banned Uber to prevent anymore protest, crime or increase in unemployment of taxi drivers. Although Uber has the potential to become useful as an appropriate competition among transportation industries with government’s appropriate regulation, many do not do so as Uber is a ‘double-edged sword’. However, is such action a right decision? The answer is unclear, like Uber’s future…