Uber introduces measures to counter Covid-19 impactNjao says Uber is providing up to 14 days of financial assistance to drivers and delivery people diagnosed with Covid-19 or ordered to self-quarantine by a doctor or public health authority.
In a recent interview, Brian Njao, the Head of Uber in East Africa, spelt out the measures being taken by the multinational transport hailing company to protect their riders and drivers amidst the coronavirus pandemic which has disrupted life around the world. Below are excerpts;
What is Uber doing in continuing to provide mobility without compromising safety?
We know that the transport industry in Uganda is facing new and unpredictable challenges as the coronavirus continues to spread. At Uber, we are doing our best to support drivers and riders during these unprecedented times and to limit the spread.
All Uber riders and drivers will be required to wear a mask or face covering when taking a trip. As part of a new in-app safety checklist, before drivers and couriers go online, they will be asked to take a selfie to verify they are wearing a mask or face covering using new object recognition technology. Any driver who is not wearing a mask or other face-covering will not be able to go online.
We have also worked with manufacturers and distributors to provide drivers, carriers and delivery people with disinfectants and cloth masks. Drivers have been sent tips to follow to help keep themselves and the Uber community safe, including information on how to get reimbursements or PPE. We have also partnered with UAP Old Mutual to provide drivers with masks.
What other measures have been put in place?
Drivers will be asked to confirm they’ve taken additional safety measures such as regularly sanitising their car and making hand sanitizer available for their riders. Drivers can also cancel a ride without a penalty if a rider isn’t wearing a mask or face covering. Riders can do the same. These cancellations must be related to safety concerns; Uber’s Community Guidelines prohibit discrimination against anyone based on their race or perceived national origin.
We are adding new options for feedback in the Uber app, including if a rider or driver is not wearing a mask. Anyone who is repeatedly flagged for violating our new safety policies risks losing access to Uber’s apps.
Working with the World Health Organization and the latest public health advice, we have compiled safety tips and recommendations specifically geared toward ridesharing. This will be used to educate riders and drivers when we learn of unsafe behaviour.
We are also working with preferred vehicle partners to ask that they support drivers in need by reducing the overall cost of their vehicles and have rolled out the ability for drivers to be able to cash out to their bank account once per day instead of weekly, putting drivers in control of when they get paid.
Drivers and delivery people also have access to our support team who remain available via our 24/7 support channels. As this situation progresses we will continue to work with our partners on sustainable ways to support them and the community.
How has Uber supported drivers under conditions of reduced earnings due to coronavirus?
The disruption and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus is being felt by everyone around the world. We know it’s especially concerning for people who drive and deliver with Uber.
We have and continue to work hard to expand earning opportunities for delivery people and drivers by leveraging our technology. We quickly adapted our technology for both our Rides and Eats apps to meet the evolving needs of communities and companies.
One example is Uber Connect, which allows users to send packages to family and friends through the app. Not only does this provide a cost-effective same-day, no-contact delivery solution, but allows further opportunity for drivers and delivery people to earn.
As a commitment to further support drivers, we are also providing up to 14 days of financial assistance to drivers and delivery people diagnosed with Covid-19 or ordered to self-quarantine by a doctor or public health authority, including where they have a pre-existing health condition that puts them at higher risk.
The Coronavirus will be around for some time, and to get through this we would need to stay focused and look beyond the virus. We need to continue finding ways to adapt to the new normal and work on innovating to meet the ever-changing demands of the consumer while working hard to protect and support communities, customers, drivers and delivery people and partners from the virus.