International travelers going to South Africa should beware fake Uber drivers soliciting fares at Cape Town International Airport and Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. Individuals holding up an Uber placard have popped up just outside the arrivals terminal, approaching travelers holding their cell phones. These individuals are not Uber drivers, but private and likely unauthorized or unlicensed taxi drivers.
Here are some tips to prevent compromising your personal security when using transportation services while traveling:
- Prearrange meet-and-greet and transport services through a safari operator, hotel or other tourism organizer.
- Rides with Uber and other app-based services can only be arranged through the application on a cell phone. Anyone holding up an Uber sign at the arrivals terminal of an airport is an imposter.
- Taxi and shuttle services, including the app-based ones, are typically required to wait outside in a staging area and pick up passengers in a separate designated area. They cannot solicit rides inside the terminal.
- When using an app-based service, make sure you’re getting into the right car by matching the license plate, car make and model, and driver photo with what’s provided in your app.
- Ask the driver to confirm your name before you get in the car. Your driver sees your first name in their app, and your driver’s first name is displayed to you in your app. To safely exchange names, ask, “Who are you here to pick up?” The driver may also ask you to confirm their name.
Other forms of transport, such as authorized taxi and shuttle services, in South Africa and elsewhere typically have branded kiosks inside the terminal building along with visible signage or branding identifying them as legitimate transportation services.
While one may think an unauthorized “private” transporter would charge less than the licensed or otherwise recognized operator, that may not be the case, and the security risk is significant. Don’t be a victim.
For more advice on transportation services while traveling in Africa, see the upcoming May 2022 issue of Safari Times.