Sunday, December 17, 2017

On The Second Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me...A x3.5 Surge For Thee.

What the public need to understand is when we are gone... we are gone for good. Uber’s dynamic price surging will then become the norm. That’s what the off peak predator pricing is all about. To financially take out all opposition. 

It’s no good once we are gone complaining. One week end of surge pricing has caused many thousands of Uber users to complain. It maybe an old saying but it’s very true....use us, or lose us. 


See the level of this weekends complaints in the Mail article below.

It's traditionally the biggest party weekend of the year, as Christmas revellers all over the country hit the town.

But some have been waking up with more than just a hangover, as Uber users have complained about having to pay significantly more than usual in order to get home.

A host of social media users have taken to Twitter to criticise the surge pricing on the taxi app as the Christmas party season reached its peak.

In fact, one claimed he had seen rates as high as 12 times the usual amount on Saturday.

The app uses 'dynamic pricing', which causes fares to temporarily increase when demand is high and 'encourages more drivers to get on the road'.

Uber users are notified on the app when surge pricing is in place. 

However, dozens of social media users have complained about the cost of their journeys over the festive period. 

One wrote: 'Thanks for the 4.5x surge last night @Uber. my journey cost nearly £100 more than usual'.m

Many Twitter users quipped that the Christmas party season was not good for surge pricing

Another added: 'Central London is carnage. Biggest Uber charge I've ever seen. God bless the humble bus.'

However, one Twitter user defended the increased fares, writing: 'Pricing is a fair way of getting more availability of by weeding out the stingy people and getting more to the area. 

'I don't know what you're complaining about.' 

Responding to the complaints, an Uber spokesperson told MailOnline: 'As our riders know, the Uber app uses dynamic pricing which means that fares automatically increase when the demand for cars in a specific area is greater than the cars available.

'The higher fare encourages more drivers to come into the area so there are more cars for people who want one. Users always see a fare estimate in advance so they have the choice to book a car, share the trip with others or wait until fares decrease.' 

It comes just months after the company was stripped of its permit in the capital by Transport for London which claimed the global taxi app was not 'fit and proper'. 

Uber is currently appealing the decision and is allowed to continue operating in the city in the meantime.

Earlier this year, Uber drivers were accused of secretly logging out of the app in order to make prices soar. 

Britain's Taxi Drivers Have Taken The Battle Against Uber .... Local

This week York became the third English city to effectively ban Uber, and the traditional taxi drivers lobbying against the app don't want to stop there. But are authorities actually powerless to do anything?

Earlier this week, a local authority in the North of England voted not to renew Uber's licence, becoming the third city in the UK to effectively ban the app from operating within its jurisdiction.

The City of York Council's decision follows similar moves in London and Sheffield. The three authorities suspended or revoked Uber's licences for completely different reasons but there is one unifying theme: the battle between traditional taxi drivers and Uber is being waged in the country's town halls, and so far Uber is losing.

BuzzFeed News has spoken to taxi drivers in York who say they are part of a grassroots anti-Uber movement being organised on social media across the country, and one that is becoming increasingly effective at lobbying local authorities.

They claim Uber is damaging their trade, and the reputation of taxi drivers, and are calling for action on a national scale, particularly calling on the government to end what they say is a loophole in UK law that allows drivers to pick up a passenger from any location, regardless of the area in which they are licensed.

Saf Din, chairman of the local Hackney Carriages Association and a taxi driver of 23 years, was present at the meeting of York council when councillors voted by a slim majority not to renew Uber's licence, a decision he says was greeted with resounding cheers.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, he said that at weekends York was being "flooded" by Uber drivers who were licensed outside the city, including as far away as London.

When BuzzFeed News visited York, one Uber driver confirmed they had travelled from Bradford, a town 41 miles away.

"We are concerned that there are people who are licensed to Transport for London who are operating in York and there are a number of drivers who are licensed to London who have not physically been in London," Din said.

"What we object to is the government allowing cross bordering... There are so many Ubers flooding the streets that there are not enough jobs for them."

He said his concern is that as Uber expands into more cities in the UK, more drivers signed up to the app will cross borders and operate in towns and cities looking for work with "no idea of the cities they are actually working in."

Under British law this is legal: a licensed driver can work anywhere in the UK. According to Din, most councils see granting licenses as a "great revenue maker," and the end result means a surplus of drivers looking for the best jobs in high footfall areas.

Data collected by local drivers and shared with BuzzFeed News indicates out of more than 200 Uber vehicles monitored since August, more than 90 came from Leeds, 60 from Bradford, and 30 had Transport for London licences. This renders the York Uber licensing ban essentially meaningless – Uber drivers with other licences can still work in the city.

A York council spokesperson told BuzzFeed News there is actually very little they can do to prevent Uber operating in the city, even with the ban, raising a question mark over whether the action of individual councils – caught in the crosshairs of rows between Uber drivers and taxi drivers – are essentially toothless.

Other taxi bodies in the UK, Transport for London, and even a cross-party committee of MPs have called for licensing rules to be standardised for all councils.

2017 has seen Uber suffer a string of global PR disasters following a huge data breach, accusations of drivers' committing sexual offences, and of a corporate culture of sexism. In the UK it has fared little better.

In September Transport for London refused to renew Uber's license in the capital on the grounds it considered the company "not fit and proper" due to "potential public safety and security implications". Uber is appealing the decision. Last week, Sheffield council reinstated Uber's licence after a brief suspension following a dispute, while the decision taken in York council was based on "concerns" about Uber's major data breach, and the number of complaints it had received about the company.

As in York, tensions exist throughout the UK. For traditional taxi drivers and Uber drivers the fight is personal, and it can get heated.

In Brighton, BuzzFeed News has seen photographs of damaged Uber vehicles and slashed tires allegedly attacked by taxi drivers.

In another instance, a vehicle had "fuck you" sprayed on it. Uber told BuzzFeed News it had been made aware of a number of instances of "vandalism" and had reported them to authorities. A spokesperson said the company was taking steps to ensure drivers felt safe, including exploring obtaining secure parking.

One Brighton Uber driver, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they were "scared" of taxi drivers and described how they had had a long career as a traditional taxi driver before switching to Uber. They said they had since been blacklisted from rejoining any firms, and claimed to have received racist abuse and "harassment."

"Most of the things that have been done is hidden, and they [the companies] send them to harass us and block us on the road, shout at us in front of the customers. We've raised all these things with the council," they said.

"The local Hackney [Carriage] drivers, they act like police, like this is their territory. They come and block you, and all of that.

"All of us are scared. I always call the customer and ask them please can you move away from there [a popular pick up location] because we don't want to deal with them."

Responding to reports of its drivers being harassed, Uber said safety is of "paramount importance for everyone that uses the Uber app."

In York, Mike Palmer, a fifth generation taxi driver and secretary of the York Private Hire Association, told BuzzFeed News Uber drivers essentially operated via an "abuse of the cross border hiring law from top to bottom.... It's systemic across the UK".

"The Bradford guys moved on to Leeds and the Leeds guys have come to York. It's a knock-on effect and York has stood strong," he said.

Palmer said the "spirit and intent" of the cross border law – to allow drivers to drop someone off outside their area and pick up another fare without having to drive all the way back to their home town or city – was to make like "easier, not harder", but was having the opposite effect.

Both taxi Din and Palmer's associations say they have been actively lobbying against Uber, gathering evidence of what they claim is safety and licensing breaches by the app's drivers that have been passed to officials. They say they've been in contact with other driver groups from Southampton to Sheffield, and from Wigan to Newcastle.

Next week, councillors in Cambridge will vote whether to renew Uber's licence there, while a similar decision is due to be taken in Brighton next April, where authorities told BuzzFeed News they would take into account "a number of concerns" with Uber.

It is standard practice for licences to be reviewed and there is no suggestion they will be refused. But according to local Cambridge press, local taxi firms have already sent letters of objection to the council.

When asked Uber to comment on claims councils were under pressure from traditional cab drivers, the firm only said it believed choice and competition were good for consumers "as it raises service levels across the board".

"Passengers now expect to be able to book a ride at the touch of a button, pay without needing cash and track their car on their phone. Millions of people in the UK rely on Uber to get a reliable ride in a few minutes, and tens of thousands of licensed private hire drivers have signed up to use our app because it gives them more control," a spokesperson said.

"With Uber, drivers can decide if, when and where they drive and our system removes the favouritism and bias of human dispatchers sometimes seen in this industry. Uber now operates in more than 40 UK towns and cities and we want to continue bringing more choice to riders and drivers across the country.”

Uber said drivers generally follow demand, "so the only reason there would be cars from other areas in York is due to the huge rider demand in the city."

This free market philosophy is something the taxi drivers in York are unlikely to agree with anytime soon. Robin Sergeant, a member of the city's Hackney Carriages Association, summed up the prevailing feeling when asked how Uber had changed York. "In a small place like York," he said, "everybody knows everybody."

Source BuzzFeed

Are We Living In A Real Democracy; Or Some Sort Of Fascist State? By Laurence Green

If you are a London taxi driver you will be well aware that many MP's and the government are only interested in the law when it suits their regime - Civil servants and Government officials have quite blatantly enforced their will on the London cab trade in order to support the activities of a corrupt, unethical company who flout laws designed to protect the welfare of the general public - Uber a business by design, only operates outside of the very regulations parliamentarians formulate.

In my opinion, Uber bear many of the characteristics of organised crime - tax avoidence and the use of  shell companies show how unethical this company is... Ubers plan  to eradicate the competition by way of predatory pricing, the use of media and political propaganda are other examples.

Organised crime has a long history of colluding with officials; in fact without such collusion they couldn't exist - there is more than enough evidence to support this has happenned in London. 

It beats me how charges of malfeasance, dereliction of duty and misconduct in public office have never been made against the management at TFL and other agencies involved!

In my opinion, TFL refusing to re license Uber is no more than a tactical exercise to defuse the high level of attention away from the corruption and the fact that TFL and the mayors office has been maladministrated for years - they have done absolutely nothing to protect the public from sexual preditors; in fact they have made it easier if anything for them to slip under the radar.

It is also established that central government officials had influence over regulatory issues in order to aid and abet Uber; consequently, there are emails and other evidence  proving collusion by officials. 

The police also have had a hand in the proceedings, by failing to enforce laws that they swore an oath to uphold.

     Unite fully endorsed and promoted STaN

Some may remember STaN (Safer Travel At Night), it won a prestigious policing award in 2006, regardless of the fact that the ranks formed outside venues for PH vehicles were totally illegal under existing legislation - It didn't stop the Metropolitan Police from accepting the award; this is when turning a blind eye to law breaking unofficially became acceptable by the police !

Fascism is a way of ruling that advocates total control of the people... Fascism comes from the Latin fascio, meaning “bundle, or political group.” In fascism, the people are looked at as a bundle — one body that must be controlled by the government with absolute force...

You only have to look at the  proceedings in parliament over brexit to realise there's an under current of fascism, determined to stop the democratic process the electorate of this country voted for!

The bigger picture in the events that have led to the demise of the London taxi trade isn't new technology; it's the fascist agenda and corruption at high levels that has facilitated it to be inserted to operate, regardless of the fact it is 100% illegal!

Why Haven't TfL Got A Chief Licensing Officer Like Nottingham City Council's Richard Antcliff ?

A sting operation in the city centre saw 15 touting Private Hire drivers caught in the space of just one hour.

Now ask yourself "how many touts were caught in London's West End last night ? "

Nottingham's licensing boss says it is "a game of cat and mouse" to catch them in the act.

Richard Antcliff, chief for licensing at Nottingham City Council, says a 'cohort' of around 200 drivers use social media messenger service Whatsapp to keep the council off their tail.

If an illegal driver spots a council or police officer then a message is pinged out to avoid that area so they aren't caught and prosecuted.

On Friday evening in Nottingham city centre, the Post went undercover with licensing boss Mr Antcliff to evaluate the scale of the problem.

In just over one hour, 15 drivers were caught picking up customers illegally. One left his vehicle outside a bus stop to issue a tirade of abuse, and another sped off before his details could be taken.

The 15 caught are now going through the system but face possible penalties including a fine or losing their badge.

The council’s licensing team are targeting drivers who obtain private hire licences from other councils and then 'tout' for business - also known as ‘plying for hire’ - on the streets of Nottingham.

The majority of the 15 caught on Friday evening had their licences issued in Gedling. Private hire drivers from Gedling can drop off in the city, but the problems arise when they then try to pick up passengers.

Under legislation, private hire vehicles may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or being hailed down like a city hackney cab.

However, Mr Antcliffe says around 200 PH drivers are regularly breaking the law.

Richard Antcliff, head of licensing for Nottingham City Council.

Other offences committed by illegal drivers include not setting the meter, charging high prices, and leaving the passenger uninsured if an accident was to occur while in the vehicle.

Mr Antcliff says that illegal touts are putting the public at risk – with a small minority using their cover to commit serious crimes.

He said in the last six months the city has got "out of control" and more enforcement work is needed to ensure that illegal touts are driven out of Nottingham.

The council runs one operation a month, but has a team of two on the streets each night.

Around 40 drivers have been caught so far this year and prosecuted - but Mr Antcliff says this is just the "tip of the iceberg" if they had more resources.

He says that in the last two years, eight rouge privat hire drivers plying for hire, have committed serious offences including rape, sexual touching, conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs, grievous bodily harm and indecent exposure. They have all lost their  PH Licenses and Badges.

      Taxis in Nottingham city centre

He told the Post: "It is all money-related, and on occasion more sinister. It is cash in hand, the operator is not taking a percentage and there is no meter.

"The criminal cases we have seen are just the people who have come forward, but there will be other victims who have been ripped off on the meter, been a victim of sexual innuendo or experienced more sinister acts from drivers. That is why it is important that customers use pre-booked PH cars or a green hackney taxi.

"We have really started to clamp down in the last six months, for a number of reasons. The city has got out of control in regards to taxis, we have seen some nasty offences committed, and we are going throug

"It is unfair for legitimate drivers to have their work stolen under their noses by those who are illegally flying round the city. We are also concerned about public safety. If you are a single female, use a hackney or pre-book a private hire.

"If you just jump into any cab there is no record of that journey and you risk the chance of becoming a victim because you just don’t know if it is legitimate."

Mr Antcliff says illegal drivers are using social messenger site Whatsapp on their mobile phones to avoid detection.

He said: "Eighty-five percent of drivers are legitimate and doing pre-booked jobs but there is a cohort – 200 on one given night.

"They are all individually out for themselves but they know each other and they help each other out. It is a hustle and their way of communicating is through Whatsapp.

"They say 'police and council are out' or they will say 'we have seen the taxi CPOs (community protection officers) out on Milton Street', and they go to the other side of the city.

"It is a game of cat and mouse but we are getting smarter. We are using the eye in the sky – we are using the CCTV cameras across the city."

Sean Cochrane is one of the community protection officers whose job is to stop illegal touting by PH drivers.

He said: "People want to get home but they do not realise the consequences. We are seeing in excess of a hundred. We won't catch everyone but we will deter it. We are concerned about safety."

Community protection officers Iona Loffman and Sean Cochrane targeting illegal Touts  in the city.

During Friday's operation, drivers were asked why they flouted the law, but often denied any knowledge of wrongdoing.

Despite one driver accepting a £20 offer to Kimberley, once rumbled he told the Post he would never have taken us and had only stopped to buy chips.

Councillor Toby Neal, the portfolio holder for community and customer service, has stressed the importance of keeping people safe.

He said: "It is coming up to one of the most busy times of the year and everyone wants to go out and have fun which is great, but our main concern is keeping people safe and if they are getting into unregulated minicabs then they are putting themselves at risk.

"Private hire cars by law should be pre-booked and if you get into one with out pre-booking you are at risk. We can't trace them, you don't know who they are and you won't be covered by insurance."

Sam Rycroft, 30, of Bulwell, was one customer who was about to take an illegal tout. on Friday night.

He said: "I have had a couple of tout drivers ask for £20 deposit or my mobile phone as deposit. All I want to do is get home safe after a night out."

Amy Upson, 24, of Essex, who was about to get into a touts car, told the Post: "I went up to him and said it would be £10 to the Premier Inn. I feel really bad. The fact he stopped in the middle of the street indicated to me he was legitimate."

Rachel Hustwayte, 38, of Wollaton, was queuing at the hackney taxi rank, which was manned by marshalls.

She said: "We are queuing for a hackney in the hope we get a safe and legitimate ride home. You hope they will charge the correct fare rather than make one up."


Mean while, in Central London, says it all ....

TfL's seem to be more concerned what magazine Licensed Taxi drivers have on show, rather being out there stoping the touting by rogue private hire touts.

Instead of protecting their stakeholder just made us more determined to get our message across.

Top of the list of heinous offences in London

• Driver not wearing a badge despite having their number on front and back windows

• Unauthorised signage 

• Over ranking, or queuing to join a rank.

And yet Touts operate all over the West End and City unabated.

What we need in London is a Head Licensing officer, with the same attitude as Richard Antcliff, and a duty of care to protect the public. Rather than a high level scripted bias to harass Licensed Taxi drivers.

Source : Nottingham Post. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Letter To Taxi Leaks Editor : In Regards To Taxi App Hospital Run Promotion....From Sean Paul Day.

Hi Jim

I think it’s becoming evidential that the single biggest threat to our industry is the corporate takeover by multi-national conglomerates. Not surprisingly. the procurement of a self sufficient trade such as ours has a political underpinning. With that, we all face huge challenges if the Taxi trade is to survive. 

There are many who believe that the trade is set for another 100 years, or there is a knight in shining armour going to sweep through and save us from the woes of a one-tier system. It’s just not the case .

The sooner we realise that unless we have foresight, and unless we can organise ourselves- and that includes owning our own technological platform- then those challenges will be insurmountable. 

Gett has basically deregulated the taxi trade from the back door and no one is doing anything about it. MyTaxi is the same, except they’re having to court the trades affections until they take a hold on the market. Both have ambitions to be big players in logistics, and will have to transcend the Taxi trade in order to compete with companies like Uber. 

At a time when the number of potential students taking up the Knowledge  will not ensure enough  drivers enter the profession, we all need to stop and check ourselves. 

Now here’s the gig. The team at Taxiapp- like you said- don’t want to burden drivers at this time of year. We thought the hospital runs would combine a good deed with a bit of promotion to boot. It all makes good content after all, and black cabs get a big up. Also, the more people hear about us, the more they might download the app, or maybe more drivers will get on board. 

One thing is for sure, without Taxiapp there will be no one  to stand up to the corporate oligarchs. Our work and the trades future will lie in the hot little asset grabbing hands of shareholders. Bearing in mind that Taxiapp isn’t afforded the luxury of outside investment, it might be in the trades interest for drivers to employ a little discernment as opposed to the natural proclivity to discredit everything and anything at all times. Or at least see it for what it is. There is still an element within our industry that cling to attacking our own on public forums (claim it to be constructive criticism) believing that’s the best way forward

I guess there are those that think we are our worst enemies. Not me, I still hold the faith, as do you Jim.


Quebec promises to compensate taxi drivers for Uber disruption

Taxi drivers will be compensated for the lost value of their permits, Transport Minister André Fortin announced Friday.

But Fortin said the government still has to determine the value of the compensation, and when the payout will begin.

“We’re talking about a compensation package that has to be discussed with the industry to see how we can best meet the needs of the taxi industry,” Fortin said at an announcement at la Perle RetrouvĂ©e, a Haitian community centre and a regular gathering spot for taxi drivers.

Fortin announced the creation of a working group composed of members of the industry and the finance department to figure out how to compensate drivers for the lost values of their permits. Fortin has promised to come up with a concrete solution by February.

Taxi drivers have complained that since the arrival of Uber in the province, the value of their permits — which are required to operate taxis in the province — have drastically declined. First introduced by the government several decades ago, the permits are a way to control the supply of taxis in the province. They are sold on the secondary market, listed on digital billboards like Kijiji and Craigslist, and sell for up to $200,000. A recent Montreal Gazette examination showed permits in the Montreal region declined by between nine and 18.9 per cent in the span of a year.

Fortin also announced a $44-million project over five years to modernize the taxi industry. 

Taxi driver and permit owner Dama Metellus said he doesn’t understand why the government is injecting money into the industry, which will go toward taxi companies like Diamond Taxi, while it’s dragging its feet to compensate drivers.

“Diamond and Hochelaga wouldn’t exist if we didn’t buy taxi permits,” he said.

Fortin said the government appears open to revisiting the wisdom of the entire permit system. Currently, there are two classes of drivers, ones who drive taxis and have to pay the permits, and those who drive for Uber and don’t have to buy the permits.

Source : 

Just In Case You Missed This :Child Miners Aged Four Living A Hell OnEarth, So You Can Drive An Electric Taxi.

Child miners aged four living a hell on Earth so YOU can drive an electric car: 

Awful human cost in squalid Congo cobalt mine that Michael Gove didn’t consider in his ‘clean’ energy crusade

Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.

His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.

And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.

Eight-year-old Dorsen is pictured cowering beneath the raised hand of an overseer who warns him not to spill a rock

Young children working at Congo mines in horrific conditions

It heralds a future of clean energy, free from pollution but – though there can be no doubting the good intentions behind Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement last month – such ideals mean nothing for the children condemned to a life of hellish misery in the race to achieve his target.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

He then staggers beneath the weight of a heavy sack that he must carry to unload 60ft away in pouring rain

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen and 11-year-old Richard are pictured. With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food.

When Sky News investigated the Katanga mines it found Dorsen, working near a little girl called Monica, who was four, on a day of relentless rainfall.

Dorsen was hauling heavy sacks of rocks from the mine surface to a growing stack 60ft away. A full sack was lifted on to Dorsen’s head and he staggered across to the stack. A brutish overseer stood over him, shouting and raising his hand to threaten a beating if he spilt any.

With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food.

Dorsen’s friend Richard, 11, said that at the end of a working day ‘everything hurts’.

In a country devastated by civil wars in which millions have died, there is no other way for families to survive. Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is donating £10.5million between June 2007 and June 2018 towards strengthening revenue transparency and encouraging responsible activity in large and small scale artisanal mining, ‘to benefit the poor of DRC’.

There is little to show for these efforts so far. There is a DRC law forbidding the enslavement of under-age children, but nobody enforces it.

The UN’s International Labour Organisation has described cobalt mining in DRC as ‘one of the worst forms of child labour’ due to the health risks.

Soil samples taken from the mining area by doctors at the University of Lubumbashi, the nearest city, show the region to be among the ten most polluted in the world. Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Chinese middle-men working for the Congo Dongfang Mining Company have the stranglehold in DRC, buying the raw cobalt brought to them in sacks carried on bicycles and dilapidated old cars daily from the Katanga mines. They sit in shacks on a dusty road near the Zambian border, offering measly sums scrawled on blackboards outside – £40 for a ton of cobalt-rich rocks – that will be sent by cargo ship to minerals giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt in China and sold on to a complex supply chain feeding giant multinationals.

Challenged by the Washington Post about the appalling conditions in the mines, Huayou Cobalt said ‘it would be irresponsible’ to stop using child labour, claiming: ‘It could aggravate poverty in the cobalt mining regions and worsen the livelihood of local miners.’

Human rights charity Amnesty International also investigated cobalt mining in the DRC and says that none of the 16 electric vehicle manufacturers they identified have conducted due diligence to the standard defined by the Responsible Cobalt Initiative.

Monica, just four-years-old, works in the mine alongside Dorsen and Richard.

Encouragingly, Apple, which uses the mineral in its devices, has committed itself to treat cobalt like conflict minerals – those which have in the past funded child soldiers in the country’s civil war – and the company claims it is going to require all refiners to have supply chain audits and risk assessments. But Amnesty International is not satisfied. ‘This promise is not worth the paper it is written on when the companies are not investigating their suppliers,’ said Amnesty’s Mark Dummett. ‘Big brands have the power to change this.’

After DRC, Australia is the next biggest source of cobalt, with reserves of 1million tons, followed by Cuba, China, Russia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Car maker Tesla – the market leader in electric vehicles – plans to produce 500,000 cars per year starting in 2018, and will need 7,800 tons of cobalt to achieve this. Sales are expected to hit 4.4 million by 2021. It means the price of cobalt will soar as the world gears itself up for the electric car revolution, and there is evidence some corporations are cancelling their contracts with regulated mines using industrial technology, and turning increasingly to the cheaper mines using human labour.

After the terrible plight of Dorsen and Richard was broadcast in a report on Sky News, an emotive response from viewers funded a rescue by children’s charity Kimbilio. They are now living in a church-supported children’s home, sleeping on mattresses for the first time in their lives and going to school.

But there is no such happy ending for the tens of thousands of children left in the hell on earth that is the cobalt mines of the Congo.

Source : Daily Mail. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mayor Khan Expects Cabbies To Provide The Same Level of Service, As He Cuts Funding For Taxicard.

Mayor Sadiq Khan's plan to slash the level of funding he provides for Taxicard services, has come under criticism from London's Local Councils.
The scheme subsidises taxi journeys for the disabled, allowing them to make journeys many would otherwise struggle to afford.
Taxi card holders pay a small amount towards the fare, and the rest is paid by the scheme. 
But the Mayor who funds the scheme through TfL, has announced plans to reduce funding by 13% in the coming financial year, followed by further cuts next year.
"This means fewer journeys or a lower level of subsidy for disabled people using the Taxicard account" said London Councils, a cross-party body, representing all local authorities in the capital. 
Councillor Julian Bell warns that TfL and the Mayor’s decision to draw up the cuts without first carrying out an equalities impact assessment could leave them open to a legal challenge.
Bell, serves as Chair of London Councils Transport and Environment Committee and is also the Labour leader of Ealing Council. 
The Councillors also said that the cuts go against Mr Khan’s election pledge to support the Taxicard scheme. He went on to say; “The scale of cuts proposed would appear to undermine Mayor's statement of support.”
City Hall claimed that despite the proposed cuts, both they and TfL are “fully committed to the Taxicard Scheme, and can guarantee that there will no reduction at all in the service being provided anywhere in London.

London black cab co-operative is offering free rides to Homerton Hospital, to support families with loved ones who are ill. 

Taxiapp UK will be laying on the free trips on Wednesday 20th Dec afternoon.

Sean Paul Day, founding member of the not-for-profit group, which is owned directly by the drivers themselves, said: “We understand Christmas can be challenging for all those with loved ones in hospital so TAXIAPP want to offer as much support as we can for those travelling to visit family members. 

“Our goal is to make transport accessible for all.”

Taxiapp accepts all kinds of passengers, from wheelchair users to those travelling with pets.

Email to arrange pick-up and drop