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Bolt, Uber, Little drivers planning switch off in protest against fuel prices, fares

Drivers of ride-hailing firms Uber, Bolt and Little Cab will switch off their services if the operators fail to increase fares and commissions in the wake of increased fuel charges.

The operators say their take-home has reduced drastically and made it difficult for those with car loans to meet their daily needs and also keep up with repayments in an environment of static fares and commission.

Petrol prices mid-March hit a nine-year high on rising crude costs in the global market, with a litre of the commodity in Nairobi retailing at a minimum of Sh107.66.

E-hailing Transporters Kenya, the lobby for the operators, is now threatening to the switch off if their demands are not met within a month.

“We hereby issue 30-day notice to all the defiant apps that we shall be switching off and deleting all those apps at the end of the 30 days,” said the lobby’s secretary-general Wycliffe Alutalala.

Uber, which was the first to enter the Kenyan market, pays a commission of 25 per cent while Bolt and Little Cab drivers earn 20 and 19 per cent respectively.

The drivers now want the commissions to be capped at below 15 per cent of the trip fare to improve their fortunes.

Some operators allege that a Sh1,000 trip leaves them with under Sh250, with up to Sh250 going to the app’s owners and Sh500 to fuel. Other trip charges include data bundles and airtime.

The drivers have staged regular strikes and protests in Nairobi in recent years over low fares, prompting the operators to make occasional increases. Lawmakers and Ministry of Transport officials also supported a higher price.

Bolt, formerly Taxify, charges Sh25 a kilometre and Sh4 per minute on its budget ride with normal taxi attracting a fee of Sh35 a kilometre and Sh5 per minute.

Digital taxi drivers under their lobby—Digital Taxi Forum— had asked transport regulators to cap taxi-hailing service operators’ commissions at a maximum of five per cent in proposals submitted to the Senate.

Mr Alutalala said almost two years after sending their proposal, the draft regulations by National Transport and Safety Authority are still stuck at Parliament.