, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – Members of the Kenya Taxi Cab Association are now terming the entry of Uber taxi services in Nairobi as ‘neo-colonialism’ of the transport sector.
On Wednesday, they issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government to kick the rivals out of the city, failure to which they shall paralyse the transport sector.
The historic Ufungamano House in Nairobi was the venue they chose to make their statement, where hundreds of the association members accompanied their leaders to make “the grand announcement.”
From the onset, one did not need to be told the agenda of the day.
They displayed banners reading, “Uber must go, Uber must vacate Kenya, ‘Ukoloni Mambo Leo Hatutaki’ (We don’t want neo-colonialism).”
Chants against the American-based company were also made with memories of 2002 when President Mwai Kibaki was being sworn-in.
Then, it was ”all is possible without Moi (former President) but on this day it was “all is possible without Uber.”
Then came their spokesman Mwangi Mubia, who described Uber as “a man trying to steal a neighbour’s wife.”
Mubia, who is aware why the competitor has edged them out of the business, said they were not scared of going digital. In fact, he said, “we are consulting our counterparts from the East African region for us to develop a similar application (like Uber).”
Uber has been praised for its convenience and affordability by the residents of Nairobi, who seem to shun conventional taxis.
For the taxi drivers, “it’s a plan to take what is ours. Some are even staying for three days without customers and yet we have loans to pay besides other expenses.”
“Why do they want to kick us out of business?”
Police have since launched investigations into a series of attacks targeting Uber drivers. The taxi drivers who have been accused of attacking Uber drivers appeared to turn the tables, saying they are the victims of the attacks.
“The police should name those who were arrested for use to ascertain whether they are our members,” they said. “Some Uber drivers together with a private security firm have attacked our members.”
The taxi drivers complained that Uber is not compliant with requirements imposed by the County and National Governments.
The association’s Organising Secretary Job Nzioka earlier said that Uber services are cheaper because they are not subjected to hefty levies by authorities.
“We are trying to pass the message to the County Government because this is where they are operating. We want them (Uber) kicked out of the market…they have poked their noses into our business without following the due channels,” he said during an interview with Capital FM News.
According to Nzioka, among the levies taxi operators in Nairobi pay include a monthly parking fee of Sh6,000 and inspection fee of Sh5,000.
The taxi operators also used to pay a Sh7,000 operating fee which has since been suspended until a case in court is heard and determined.