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Digital Taxi Drivers seek to operate under saccos

Monday July 15 2019

Striking Uber drivers

Striking Uber drivers protest at Uhuru Park, Nairobi in July 2018. One year later, on July 15, 2019, the online app taxi drivers were at it again, protesting over unfair commissions from US-based Uber, Estonian firm Taxify and locally owned Little Cab. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Digital Taxi Drivers are planning to operate under saccos like their counterparts in the matatu sector.

Mr John Kimani, President Digital Taxi Forum on Monday said this will give drivers and vehicle owners a voice and a chance to engage with the App companies and government agencies.

“Currently the App companies are dictating the working model which is skewed in their favour,” Mr Kimani.

He says the sacco model will ensure all parties operate from mutually agreed parameters.

“To check the proliferation of dubious saccos and compliances, we propose to form an association of online taxi saccos. This association will ensure all online saccos adhere to a set of rules and regulations,” Mr Kimani.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

They also sought for technical support from government agencies responsible for transportation and online operations, to form, develop and adopt a cashless system which they feel will add value to the online operators and App companies.

The Digital Taxi Drivers downed their tools on Monday to push for implementation of better pricing by dominant app companies, which they accuse of ignoring terms of a deal entered into in July, last year.

Their Monday protest was temporarily disrupted after police lobbed teargas canisters to disperse their gathering at Uhuru Park, Nairobi. They later reassembled and continued with their boycott.

They claimed, US-based Uber and Estonian software firm Taxify (Bolt), had refused to negotiate in good faith with the drivers’ representatives regarding the various changes they had made without proper consultations.

SH42 PER KM

The Digital Taxi Drivers and partners want to earn Sh42 per kilometre, and Sh4 per minute for 1300cc engine vehicles and below. Currently, Uber charges Sh16 per kilometre and Sh2 per minute.

Bolt on the other hand charges Sh14 per kilometre and Sh2 per minute.

They also want commissions on the use of the technology Apps to be standardised at between five and ten per cent of the total earnings.

Currently, Maramoja Transport – a Kenyan based App company, charges Sh60 a kilometre and Sh4 per minute.

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 end the conflict between the parties.

This was after lengthy meeting to iron out grievances that had also seen the drivers down their tools. The MOU has nevertheless not been complied with.