, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Taxi drivers are threatening to paralyse traffic in Nairobi if the government fails to kick rival Uber out of business in seven days.
The Kenya Taxi Cab Association Spokesman Mwangi Mubia said “there is no other way… Uber must get out of our business.”
The taxi drivers who have been accused of attacking Uber drivers appeared to turn the tables, saying they are the victims of the said attacks.
“They cannot accuse us of attacking them. It is they who have been attacking us while trying to get us out of business,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.
The row stems from claims that Uber is undercharging customers to run other taxis out of business.
They spoke even as police prepared to arraign two suspects arrested on Tuesday after allegedly attacking an Uber driver whose vehicle was damaged in Kileleshwa. Several other similar incidents had been reported since last week.
“We are peaceful people, doing genuine business, we do not attack people, but on this one we are very clear, Uber must go,” Mubia said.
“What Uber is doing is not any different with what we are planning to do; we are soon rolling out a digital platform that will benefit our customers.”
“We have told our members to park their vehicles at strategic locations and all over town to block roads if Uber is not sent away in a week’s time,” he said.
The statement was issued a day after the government warned that action will be taken against anyone found interfering with the business of their rivals.
“Business rivalry should never be settled through attacks and intimidation but rather through established legal mechanism of resolving disputes,” Mwenda Njoka, Spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
“The police have launched investigations into the cause and nature of these attacks and will ensure that those behind the attacks will face the full wrath of the law.”
Uber spokesperson Samantha Allenberg on Monday told Capital FM News that they had been engaging various taxi associations since last year, in a bid to resolve contentious issues.
“We are working with all relevant stakeholders in Nairobi to resolve this as a matter of urgency. We hope tourists, business travellers and residents alike can enjoy a safe, affordable, hassle-free time travelling however they choose to get around Nairobi,” she said.
“Uber is all about keeping Nairobi moving – connecting people to safe, reliable and flexible transport at the tap of a button.”
Police headquarters has confirmed that they are investigating “numerous complaints” over the matter.
“The complaints we have received include people registering in their system and requesting a taxi then when the Uber taxi arrives they attack him,” he said, but did not give statistics of the number of cases reported, or dwell into specific cases,” Charles Owino, Spokesman for the Kenya Police said.