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Power Crisis in South Africa Leads to Uber Eats Driver Bans



Uber Eats

Lovemore Moyo, an Uber Eats driver in Johannesburg, found himself locked out of the app one afternoon in January. While rushing to deliver an order on time, the Uber Eats in-app map malfunctioned, prompting Moyo to use Google Maps instead as reported by Rest of World. However, this deviation triggered a permanent block on his account. Moyo explained that the app failed to track his movements while using an alternate GPS, leading to suspicions of food theft. He attempted to rejoin Uber Eats without success, leaving him to rely on occasional odd jobs for income, such as gardening.

Moyo is not alone in facing bans from the app due to South Africa’s severe power crisis. Many other Uber Eats drivers in Johannesburg have encountered temporary or permanent suspensions in recent months. The country has been grappling with persistent power shortages, resulting in frequent power cuts of up to six hours a day in Johannesburg. These outages adversely affect mobile towers, exhausting their backup power and disrupting services. Consequently, the Uber Eats map malfunctions, while Google Maps remains unaffected due to its direct satellite connection.

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Late deliveries caused by connectivity problems have become a significant issue for Uber Eats drivers in South Africa. Despite the challenges imposed by the power crisis, customers continue to expect timely deliveries, and Uber Eats maintains its regular community guidelines. Late deliveries are considered punishable offences, with drivers suspected of stealing and potentially facing lifetime bans. Edward Mlilo, an Uber Eats driver in Johannesburg, highlighted the strict consequences faced by drivers and mentioned a WhatsApp group for Uber Eats drivers in the city, which has over 140 members.

Uber Eats maintains that it adheres to strict community guidelines to ensure a safe and positive experience on its platform. Lorraine Onduru, a regional spokesperson for Uber, stated that they review each report fairly and promptly. However, drivers like Tina Phiri have faced temporary blocks and even permanent bans without prior warning. Phiri shared his experiences of dealing with rude customers when deliveries were delayed, often resulting in low ratings and financial loss. Although Phiri now works with a local delivery app called Mr D Food, he misses the flexibility Uber Eats offers.


Umar Kiza, an Uber Eats driver since 2018, expressed frustration at the lack of response to his complaints. Despite sending multiple messages through the app’s help section, Kiza received no assistance. Uber claims to have introduced a “Deactivation Review Centre” program allowing permanently banned drivers to request a review of their accounts, but drivers like Phiri have found the appeals process ineffective. Phiri criticised Uber Eats, accusing the company of prioritising profit over the concerns of permanently blocked drivers.

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Photo: Facebook / @Uber Eats

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