NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery has now directed his Principal Secretary to convene an urgent meeting with Uber management and the Kenya Taxi Cab Association to resolve their competition stalemate.
Nkaissery says the government is committed to getting a lasting solution to the crisis after the association demanded the exit of Uber from the Kenyan market.
“I have directed PS Interior to call for a meeting with Uber taxis and the other taxis operators so that we can bring a lasting solution,” he stated during a meeting with senior security chiefs at the Kenya School of Government.
“It looks like there is competition and a bit of misunderstanding. We don’t want it to escalate into an unnecessary security problem.”
While the rivals accuse Uber of unfair competition, a cross section of Kenyans interviewed Capital FM News say Uber should stay because they are bringing healthy competition to the transport sector in Kenya.
The taxi association has threatened to mobilise members to block key roads in Nairobi in a week’s time unless Uber exits the Kenyan market.
On Wednesday, Members of the Kenya Taxi Cab Association termed the entry of Uber taxi services in Nairobi as ‘neo-colonialism’ of the transport sector.
The association spokesman Mwangi Mubia, 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?”
The rival 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.