There is no doubt that mobile taxi apps have revolutionized the industry, making it affordable for most Kenyans and creating employment for hundreds of Kenyan youths.
But it seems the business is not as lucrative as it used to be. In fact taxi drivers are complaining of the low rates charged by the digital App taxi firms. This, coupled with the humongous commissions they are forced to pay has left the drivers with poor.
It is on this background that the drivers have issued a strike notice to protest the poor working conditions and terms of service. The strike which will begin on Monday will affect digital platforms such as Uber, Taxify, Little Cab, Pewin Cabs and Fone Taxi.
According to the drivers, the app firms have been taking take up to 25 percent of total earnings; leaving drivers and cab owners to share the rest which they are now demanding to be standardised at a 10 per cent rate.
The drivers now want firms to increase on cost per kilometre on rides. They claim the current rate is too low and translates to meagre earnings for them.
“We are like slaves. The rates are too low and we wonder why the Government is allowing us to be treated this way,” Fredrick Oduor, a driver, said.
“We experience a lot of issues such as insecurity and long working hours but go home with peanuts.”
Currently, Uber charges Sh16 per kilometre while Taxify charges Sh14 for the same distance. Little cab rides cost Sh20, with Mara Moja charging the highest at Sh60 per kilometre. The members are demanding for an independent body to be formed to review the payments that are currently controlled by the App firms, most of them which are foreign-owned.
In July, last year, at the Ministry of Transport, the Digital Taxi App companies (Uber, Bolt formerly Taxify, Little Cab, and others) and the Digital Taxi Forum, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create and establish a workable solution to end the conflict between the parties. Unfortunately, nothing substantial has come out of the MOU.
“We demand to be told why NTSA did not do their job of implementing the MOU. We had only two meetings during which NTSA claimed that transport is a devolved function, and our issue should be dealt with at the county level,” said
Chairman of the Forum, David Muteru.Members of the forum will march to the Ministries of Transport, Interior and the office of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to put forward their complaints.
This is not the first time that the taxicab drivers have threatened to down their tools. Last year Uber drivers in Mombasa took issue with the American based taxing hailing company over the revenue sharing deal.