Aggressive US online taxi service firm Uber is facing its share of Kenyan backlash as reports of killed Uber drivers and damaged cars make rounds on social media.
Kenyan taxi operators stunned by Uber's cheap pricing model which cuts by more than half what they have been charging commuters in central Nairobi are said to have ambushed and stubbed four Uber drivers to death, reports the technology firm denies knowledge of.
On Tuesday, unverified images of a damaged car said to belong to an Uber driver who was reportedly ambushed by taxi drivers along Valley Arcade in Nairobi while picking up a passenger by the local taxi drivers went viral on social media.
"The reports of drivers being killed are untrue, we have not received any reports to this matter," Uber said in an email.
Police could not immediately be reached for comment but social media users claimed Uber drivers feared for their lives, a fact however disputed by Uber.
“I have talked to three @uberkenya drivers who really fear for their lives. Four of their colleagues have been stabbed to death,” claimed blogger Robert Alai.
A losing battle
On social media, Kenyans debated the merits and demerits of the low cost taxi service.
Social media user Kelvin Mutuma decried the opposition against Uber saying taxi drivers opposed to it are fighting a losing battle.
“This is a losing fight against technology just give it some time. We are tired of being exploited as customers,” he posted on twitter.
Dan Moseti said in reference to reports of violence against the Uber drivers: “If this is happening then that is sad, very very sad.” Uber which initially offered a 20 per cent discount during its first two weeks of operation in Kenya, hopes to ride on Kenya’s mobile phone penetration and a tech savvy populace.
"We are working with all relevant stakeholders in Nairobi and Kenya to resolve this as a matter of urgency," the US firm wrote to nation.co.ke
Through its Kenya foray, Uber joined a growing list of online hailing taxis in Kenya. So far there are six such companies.
Uber has faced stiff opposition to its service across the globe, including South Africa where the traditional metered taxi drivers violently at one time demonstrated against the US operator, pulling passengers out of the vehicles and threatening the drivers.
Uber launched its online taxi hailing service launched in Kenya in January last year making Nairobi the six African city where it has presence. The San Fransisco based Uber is present in more than 270 cities in 56 countries.