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Nairobi taxi drivers launch own battle against Uber

Kenyan taxi drivers have launched their own version of the ongoing global revolt against taxi hailing service Uber, arguing that its pricing model is driving them out of business.

The taxi drivers last Thursday warned of an impending attack on Uber partners, prompting the US tech firm that owns the service to alert its Kenyan associates to move with care.


“We have received reports of isolated intimidation and harassment of our partner-drivers at the Oval — a commercial building complex — in Nairobi’s Westlands,” Uber said in a message sent to partner-drivers.

“Please be alert and aware in this area by concealing your Uber device and ensuring that your pick-ups and drop-offs take place in public, well lit areas,” said Samantha Allenberg, the spokesperson for Uber Africa, adding that the company was working with the relevant stakeholders in Nairobi to ensure the negative experience is not repeated.

Kenyan taxi operators are opposed to Uber’s pricing model, which cuts by more than half what they have been charging commuters in central Nairobi.


“Uber fares are as low as Sh300 to Westlands. We do not understand that pricing model and cannot charge that low because we also pay taxes,” the Kenya Taxi Cab Association (KTCA) treasurer, Richard Muiga, said.

Mainstream taxi operators charge an average of Sh600 to Westlands from Nairobi’s Central Business District.

Uber has gained quick traction in Nairobi since it entered the local scene last year — doubling the number of drivers on its App and tripling the number of trips taken.


Uber entered the Kenyan market early last year, offering a crucial alternative for Nairobi residents with its low prices, and upsetting a market that has been under the grips of private taxi operators such as Jatco and Kenatco.

Ms Allenberg, however, sought to play down the simmering conflict, saying Uber had opened talks with metered taxi associations for possible partnerships.

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SOURCE: Business Daily