NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – A section of drivers with taxi-hailing companies have insisted their strike will continue until their rates are reviewed upwards.
Tens of drivers gathered at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, hooting and making their plight known to passers-by.
David Muteru, the Chairman of digital taxi forum, says drivers from Uber, Little, Taxify and Mondo are against the low rates charged by service providers which have squeezed their commissions.
“Currently we are working for 20 to 27 shillings per kilometer, a fee far less than the 60 shillings that was the initial introduction price,” Mutero stated.
Dennis, a driver who prefers to not have his last name used, said that drivers are suffering due to low rates.
“The fare prices keep on reducing because of the competition with other apps. In the long run, it is us, the partners and drivers, who are losing. We are being oppressed,” he said.
Uber currently charges a 25 percent commission on each ride, while apps like Taxify and Little Car charge 15 percent.
Traffic along Nairobi’s Kenyatta Avenues was slow on Monday afternoon as agitated drivers in different parts of the city left slowly drove from Uhuru Park to Transport House, where they were to submit their petition to Transport Ministry officials.
“The Petitioner seeks that the House 3(h) of the Act and Standing Order No.223(h). The Petitioner seeks that the House orders the formation of a Committee comprising of E-Hailing App Companies and other persons to come up with regulations for digital taxi operators,” reads part of the petition.
Drivers that have refused to join the strike have been targetted, says one customer.
“They are stopping every (digital) taxi, taking away keys, stoning and even piercing tires,” said Khadija a passenger caught up in the protests.
In 2017, Uber had cut its fare to Sh35 per kilometer, after Little lowered faces igniting a fierce price war.
But money has not been the only challenge for Uber employees. Many have faced hostility from other taxi drivers.
In March 2016, six men were charged with malicious damage to property and attempted murder following an attack on an Uber driver.