Global revolt against foreign taxi service provider Uber is getting tougher within Nairobi and its suburbs.
Today, the startup which launched in Nairobi back in 2015 January was among the trending hashtags for more than six hours after blogger Robert Alai shared screen shots from a whatsapp group named Kenya United Cabs.
The screenshots indicated a plot by the group members to stage a demonstration against “Uber taxis”. Members are assumed to be taxi drivers within Nairobi. This is based on the locations named (Valley Arcade and yaya) in the group chat
— Robert ALAI (@RobertAlai) February 1, 2016
Two weeks ago, the company was on the hands of tweeps as they debated on the startups rejection in major cities around the world. This includes London, Paris, New Delhi and now Nairobi.
Why the war against Uber?
According to Taxi drivers at Yaya centre, Uber charges between 300-350 shillings to the City while they charge 600 shillings. This 50% difference is bad business on their side.
“Their price is heartwarming to the client but not at all a good thing to us. I haven’t carried any passenger from morning until now because most clients prefer cheaper taxis. We cannot allow this to happen, if we do, within no time we will be out of business and unable to settle our bills” said one of the drivers who sought anonymity
Secondly, Uber does not own any car. They partner with willing taxi drivers and use their cars. So where is the bone of contention coming in? The drivers at Yaya confirm to Techsahara that Uber does not accept using old cars. That is any car which is not under the KC registration category and above. The drivers report that the US based startup is very arrogant. “They have demanded that we either join them or they continue to kill our business. As per now their pricing model is not economical to us and if we join them we shall be killing ourselves” the bitter driver noted
Thirdly, Uber operates anywhere. They have no base, therefore causing total disruption all over Nairobi. “This people should have their own centre, and operate under proper regulation, they are foreign investors and should respect us. You don’t just come to my house and start ruling?” The driver added
Lastly, local taxis no longer get the foreign clients as they have all shifted to Uber. “These days we do not carry any “Mzungu” they have all shifted to Uber. Last Friday the first car from our side left here at 12:00 AM which is very unfair”
One of the drivers indicated that the matter was forwarded to the president through the Kenya Taxi Association body sometimes back last year. This, he said did not bear much fruit as Uber stood with the opinion that they are actually creating jobs .This is because the cars they use belong to Kenyans and the drivers too are Kenyans. However their pricing model is wanting The drivers noted that locally there is an existence of Easy taxi but they have never rubbed shoulders like they are currently with Uber.
“Uber’s technology is open and available to all. Many taxi drivers have already signed up to use the Uber app as a way to increase the number of trips they make on a daily basis and boost their chances for profit, and we welcome more who want to join. We are deeply committed to the safety of riders and driver-partners before, during and after a trip. We will continue to work hard to ensure a safe, reliable transportation option for the people of Nairobi” said a statement on Uber’s Kenyan website this afternoon
After a long interrogation with the taxi drivers, I was interested to know what their wish was regarding this disruption. Among those proposed included; regulation of Uber taxi prices by the government so as not to make losses .
Second is the creation of Uber centers. “It is good to have investors in the country, but welcoming them to take over our business is injustice to us, our country, our families, our business and all stakeholders involved in this particular business” a brown looking taxi driver noted during the interview.
— Robert ALAI (@RobertAlai) February 1, 2016
To bring this war to an end, the drivers are now waiting upon the government to come in and bring a solution. They do not want to take actions in their own hands. However, they have raised their red flag to half mast indicating that if nothing is done they will be forced to deal with Uber operators their own way
With such increasing conflicts of interest because of one reason or another, it will only be realistic if a metering system is initiated by the government, or an introduction of standard prices for the taxis.This will make it easier for both firms to operate without wrangles.