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N Touch
Sunday 22 April 2018
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Editorial

Uber danger

AS OUR society advances technologically, it seems criminals are hell-bent on keeping up. The latest trend involves luring unsuspecting Uber drivers to locations where they are ambushed and robbed by a group of people.

According to police, between February and the middle of March, five Uber drivers have reported to police that they were asked to pick up a passenger in Belmont, then ambushed and robbed of cash, cellphones and other valuables by a group of young men, mainly teenagers.

Police – working with newly-arrived experts from the company – have worked quickly to stem the tide. Several people, including a 13-year-old suspect as well as a 22-year-old ringleader, were recently held. We hope these arrests will nip this trend in the bud.

However, the sad fact is the Belmont Uber robberies are likely just the tip of the iceberg. After all, Uber’s services are available all over the nation and it is likely that this type of scheme has been done elsewhere before.

What is more, Uber is not the only peer-to-peer transport service which citizens can access using their smartphones. There is now a raft of such companies here offering door-to-door transport services for a fee.

It would be very surprising if Uber’s recent experience is, in fact, an isolated rash. Therefore, it would be a shame if reports of an Uber blacklisting of Belmont are accurate.

While there is some dispute over whether Uber is a taxi service or not, the fact remains that Uber drivers now find themselves in what is all-too-familiar territory for taxi drivers. Whether driving licensed taxis or PH cars, these drivers have long become the target of criminals who have had no qualms in robbing and, in some instances, murdering them.

“It has been getting worse,” warned Adrian Acosta, president of the Taxi Drivers Network, back in 2016.

“There are persons who target us. They set up shop on the stands and watch every move you make.”

At the same time, it must not be forgotten that while taxi drivers face risks, passengers, too, are vulnerable.

They may get caught in the crossfire of robberies gone wrong. Or they may find themselves being targeted by taxi drivers.

In the UK some estimate that there is at least one sex attack by an Uber driver every week. In reality, technology’s advancement has simply given us new ways of interacting. But like any tool, these new programmes and services can be abused.

As much as we would like to think advancements have brought us progress, unfortunately the baser of our human motives remain the same, even behind the smartphone.

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