The Ghana subsidiary of the transportation network company, Uber is reported to have deactivated the accounts of 200 of its drivers who are below the age of 25.
The drivers were told their appointments had to be terminated because they did not meet the required 25-years age limit required for drivers to operate commercial vehicles.
One of the drivers, Timothy, who has been with the company for only two months told host of Super Morning Show, Daniel Dadzie they were sent termination notification via text message last month to inform them of the development.
His account and that of the other drivers under the age of 25 years, were subsequently terminated on Monday, April 9, 2018.
“They told us that due to some commercial insurance problems they will be deactivating our accounts on the April 6. I came online, went offline and my account was deactivated,” the 23-year-old Timothy recounted.
The management of Uber, he disclosed, said an earlier difficulty to claim insurance for one of the drivers after an accident, triggered the decision.
“They said the insurance company said they won’t pay because the driver was under age 25 and in the law to drive a commercial vehicle you needed to be age 25 and above.
“So because of that Uber has decided to deactivate the accounts of those under 25…even if you’re 24 they’ll deactivate your account. They will only reactivate it when you turn 25,” he said.
Timothy who left his driving job at Allied Oil to drive Uber, is unsure of what his next steps are although has written and sent applications to other companies hoping to get employed.
He said he could not afford to stay idle for two years until he turns 25, when his account with Uber may be reactivated.
When asked why he did not accept the marketing job offered him by Uber, Timothy said he didn’t think the company needed to engage in any marketing activities because they are already known.
“How much am I going to earn from going around and telling people about Uber. Uber has been in Ghana for 2 years …everybody knows about Uber now, even old ladies know about Uber so what am I going to tell people?
“Even they [the company] know that it wouldn’t work but they just brought it up to make us feel okay,” he said.
But the Founder and Executive Director of Toptech Transport and Logistics is amazed that Uber went ahead to employ the underage drivers.
Cecil Graabrah said Uber should have known that persons under the age of 25 are by law, prohibited from operating certain commercial vehicles in the country.
“It is wrong for Uber to go ahead and employ such drivers.”
He explained that although the right age to acquire a drivers license is 18 years, using the B license – meant for small car drivers – for commercial purposes is illegal.
“If you calculate the years before you become a commercial driver, you must be at least 25 years of age and this is common law.
“So you cannot use the B license to drive a commercial vehicle, it is really wrong. That person is inexperienced and cannot match up the common knowledge in driving and Uber should have known this,” he added.
He lamented the lack of implementation of the law in the country adding that if these were done, individuals or businesses who come to operate in Ghana will abide by them.
The laws must work in this country because if we have a law governing us and we are not using it, then where are we going to,” he queried.
Mr Garbrah said most of the Uber drivers are inexperienced and lack the skills required to even operate at their level.
“The Uber drivers are not trained,… Most of them do not have the common knowledge of reading map. They have Google maps on their phones but when you ask them to come, they pass by and they cannot even communicate with you.”
Uber has been operating in Ghana for the past 2 years
Moving forward, however, Mr Garbrah a strong advocate for road safety said, the Uber drivers need proper training.
For him, the country can only win the war against road accidents if drivers have the adequate skills and knowledge required to be on the road.
“Uber should have known and done the right thing,” he stressed.
He also hopes that in the future, the law is revised and the age limit for commercial drivers is reduced, but experience cannot be taken for granted.
Mr Grabrah said no learner driver should be allowed to operate a commercial vehicle, “it is wrong. We need to support the issue on training those people to upgrade their license at 25. It is law.
“They need the experience and the right license to operate commercial vehicles.”
For Mr Garbrah, experience cannot be taken for granted in these circumstances but advised the drivers to be patient and wait a while until they have attained the right age.