The row pitting traditional taxi operators and those of car-hailing type in Kisumu is repugnant as it is unjustified and illegal.
Reports indicate that in the past one week, six drivers were violently attacked while scores others have been chased away from parking their vehicles at various malls.
It is easy to sympathise with the taxi drivers who obviously feel that their source of income and livelihood is threatened.
Nonetheless, their acts don’t justify that pain. The taxis – like most businesses – operate in a free market that is dictated by the forces of supply and demand. The simple logic is that you are free to engage in any business wherever. That means if it doesn't work for you, you cut your losses and move on. There is no point doing what does not really work for you. Fighting off competition is to postpone the reality of the market. It is akin to fighting innovation.
The convenience of technology and other market forces is disrupting business models; those who adapt survive; those who fight it will be shocked when the rising tide sweeps them aside.
In Nairobi, the established taxis realised – after fiercely fighting off the entry of Uber and Taxify – that if you can’t win, you join them, much to the relief of customers.
Even in Kisumu, commuters are not bemused and have swiftly embraced the car-hailing services, which are cheaper, cleaner and offer unmatched convenience by far. The drivers are courteous and trained well in customer relations, something that has been lacking in the industry.
Besides waiting for market forces to deal with the disgruntled taxi drivers, the Government through law-enforcement agencies ought to step in to protect legitimate businesses from attacks by sore losers.
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