Uber Services in Suspended in Accra until further notice – Viral WhatsApp Message.
Uber Services are still available in Accra and other parts of the country.
The Director of Public Health, Ghana Health Service, Dr Badu Sarkodie in a press briefing on Sunday, March 15, 2020, announced that the number of Covid-19 cases has increased to six. Later that evening, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressed the nation on measures taken to control the spread of the virus. They include the Ministry of Transport working with transport unions and public and private transport operations to ensure enhanced hygienic conditions in all cars and terminals.
On the same day, a message started circulating on WhatsApp stating that Uber services have been suspended in Accra until further notice. It purports to be a press release from the Uber Drivers Association. The message titled “UBER SERVICES SUSPENDED IN ACCRA UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE” was signed by Alex Joy Vifa who was noted as the Secretary for the association. A contact number, 0550359901, was included in the message.
According to the message, the decision to suspend Uber services in Accra was taken due to the spread of the coronavirus in Accra.
“This decision was taken due the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID 19) in Accra. As at Sunday, 15th March 2020, Ghana has recorded 4 new cases of Coronavirus. In that regard, a total of 6 cases have been recorded so far,” the release said.
“Our services that we render to our riders in Ghana always expose us to the deadly disease. It is also a fact that we are not adequately prepared to detect, manage and prevent the spread of the disease. All these make drivers and riders vulnerable and susceptible to the COVID 19. We will put our lives and that of riders in danger when we continue our services,” it continued.
News portals such as bbcghana.com have proceeded to make news articles based on the viral message, with a headline stating that Uber services have been suspended in Accra.
Dubawa could not speak to Alex Joy Vifa of the Uber Drivers Association for verification as the number advertised in the release is incorrect.
The Country Manager for Uber Ghana, Ms Jessica Poku, has, however, in a thread on Twitter clarified that the viral message circulating is incorrect. She said the Uber application has not been suspended. It is still available throughout Ghana and is operating normally.
Ms Poku also noted that the nature of Uber services allows drivers to form associations. Therefore, the message could be from a group of drivers who have decided to withhold their services.
“This could be, for example, a group of 5 drivers who take a decision not to drive, and draft a message to send out. The application has not been suspended and is operating as normal at this time. You may open the app at any time to confirm same”Ms Poku
This was again confirmed to Dubawa by an officer at the Uber Support Centre, Mr Hamand Khan.
“In Ghana, the services are not suspended at all. Riders are sending requests for Uber and our partners are accepting the Uber ride,” Khan said.
Mr Khan added that plans of suspension of services if any would be communicated to riders either through email or through a suspension notice in their Uber app.
“If there is any plan of suspension of Uber in Accra, clients will receive an email or will see a suspension notification in their uber app directly. So if you receive any forwarded message from any third party, I will recommend you to contact us and verify that the information is from us,” Khan said.
Mr Nathan Akoto of Hailing Apps, an app which has drivers from Bolt, Uber and Yango on their platform says their drivers are working.
“As far as we are concerned we’ve not had any corroboration. We tried the numbers that were put out there but none of them went through. But our drivers are working. You can just try ordering it and you will see for yourself.” Akoto said.
Dubawa also spoke to Mr Mark Agyei, an Uber driver in Accra who said they are currently working and have received no directives from their association to suspend services in the national capital.