Storm brewing as taxi firm Uber upsets industry in Kenya
SEE ALSO :Kenyan NGO wins global TB awardAccording to Mubea, charging Sh300 for short distances is unrealistic. “Considering the traffic jams we have in Nairobi that is not feasible. We are also furious because for one’s car to be registered with Uber, one of the requirements is that your vehicle must have been manufactured after 2009. How many taxis in the city were manufactured seven years ago?” he asked. Steven Karanja, a Kuto official, said “we know we cannot fight technology but all we want is fairness and mainstreaming in the industry”. “There are about 200 Uber taxis in the country compared to over 15,000 conventional ones. Our business has been affected greatly. The Government must urgently come up with mechanisms to protect us. It will be dangerous if the thousands of young people in the industry lose their jobs,” said Mr Karanja. Uber’s management said they were aware of the heat their entry into the market had generated, but were working with taxi organisations in the country to find better ways of engaging with them. “We have been engaging with taxi associations since last year to find a way that we can partner with them. We are happy that many taxi drivers are already using our technology to boost their incomes and we would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues,” said Samantha Allenberg, Uber’s spokesperson.
SEE ALSO :Harnessing the power of technologyUber’s introduction in South Africa last year, according to The Africa Report, also caused a backlash after taxi operators in major cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town said it was undermining their businesses. Meanwhile, the Kenya Taxi Cab Association has threatened to sue the Nairobi county government over the directive to ban all taxis from occupying parking slots in the central business district. Last week, the county government cancelled all designated taxi ranks in the city centre in a move aimed at de-congestion. KTCA Treasurer Job Nzioka said the parking slots were in line with the city by-laws, which allowed taxis to be allocated slots in designated areas. He said the association had not received an eviction letter from City Hall and they would sue if the directive was enforced. “I can assure you we cannot be banned from parking in the CBD and if that happens then a fierce court battle is awaiting the county,” he said. He said the county government was unfairly targeting the taxi operators, adding that the authorities ought to draft other implementable de-congestion measures. -Story by Daniel Psirmoi, Josphat Thiongo and James Wanzala
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