Online app taxi drivers to go on strike over pricing deal

Wednesday March 18 2020
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A taxi driver during a protest in 2016. Taxi drivers will Monday go on strike in to push for implementation of better pricing by the dominant app companies, which they say have continued to ignore terms of a deal entered in July 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ABIUD OCHIENG

Taxi drivers will Monday go on strike in to push for implementation of better pricing by the dominant app companies, which they say have continued to ignore terms of a deal entered in July 2018.

According to the taxi drivers, US-based Uber and Estonian software firm Taxify have refused to negotiate in good faith with the drivers’ representatives regarding the various changes they have been making without proper consultations.

Mr John Kimani, the president of Digital Taxi Forum, says they will remain on strike until an agreement that will be acceptable by all parties and stakeholders involved is reached.

PEACEFUL DEMOS

“We have no other recourse than to begin our indefinite strike from July 15. We will be picketing and holding peaceful demonstrations daily until our concerns are addressed,” Mr Kimani said.

The taxi drivers are aggrieved that the dominant companies have been engaging in price wars, much to their detriment and third party vehicle owners who are never consulted on changes.

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The drivers say this has led to all-time low fares that have reduced their earnings to an unsustainable level.

In July 2018 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.

Unfortunately, nothing substantial has come out of the MOU to date.

EXCUSES

Mr Kimani says this is because the digital taxi app firms never honoured the deal, giving excuses for not honouring the same.

“Our members feel short changed. They have been patient enough awaiting implementation of the MOU to no avail,” Mr Kimani.

The Ministry of Transport had in July 2018 agreed to sign a deal with digital taxi drivers after a lengthy meeting to iron out grievances that had also seen them down their tools.

Transport PS Paul Maringa, who chaired the talks at his Transcom House office, had stated that the department had agreed to sign an MOU with the drivers that includes a pricing structure.

Mr Kimani says the digital taxi drivers feel that their good faith in signing the MOU was taken for granted by the Ministry and the app companies.