Kenya taxi drivers threaten demos over Uber, seek govt action

Wednesday February 3 2016

Uber. The Interior ministry has vowed to protect taxi drivers facing threats from rivals for embracing technology offered by Uber,

Mobile tax-hailing app Uber. FILE PHOTO  

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Kenyan taxi drivers have given the government a seven-day ultimatum to resolve the stalemate between them and new entrant Uber.

The drivers asked officials to negotiate with them over Uber’s entry into the market and have threatened mass demonstrations if their call is not heeded.

Citing unfair competition, the drivers said they oppose the technology-enabled taxi-hailing Uber platform, which offers cheaper rates.

They claim Uber is driving 15,000 traditional taxi drivers out of business as its drivers make more trips because their prices are lower, they are readily available and are very popular among young people.

Representatives of the United Kenya Taxi Organisation also denied claims they had been attacking Uber drivers and vandalising their vehicles.

“We are not at war with any transport service provider, be it a Kenyan or a foreign investor, [as] it has been reported in the media.

“We are fighting the strategy that Uber is using to gain monopoly [in] the market in a bid to dominate us,” said Mr Ashford Mwangi, a spokesman for the association.


The organisation questioned the protocols followed by the foreign investors behind Uber, saying they were not consulted before the service provider entered the market.

“We have loans to service, families to feed, children to educate and other responsibilities to cater for and we are not ready to leave the transport industry to a foreigner and render [ourselves] jobless while we are in a democratic republic,” said Mr Mwangi.

The drivers said no one had been arrested in connection with the alleged vandalism of Uber taxis.

They said one of the vehicles vandalised, as seen in photos circulating on social media, belongs to one of their members based at a workstation in Lavington, Nairobi.

They accused Uber of seeking sympathy from the community by surreptitiously destroying property and blaming other taxi drivers for the vandalism.

“We are not fighting Uber drivers. In fact, some of them used to be our colleagues. Our problem is with the big fish, the investors who want to paint Uber drivers as more professional than the rest of us,” Mr Mwangi said.

The drivers have also promised to come up with their own version of Uber to connect taxi drivers in the country.