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Security scare as taxi wars escalate

By Harold Odhiambo | November 7th 2019
By Harold Odhiambo | November 7th 2019

The row pitting digitised cab operators and mainstream taxi drivers in Kisumu has worsened as the two groups now move with weapons and engage in public fights.

On Tuesday, a group of mainstream taxi drivers were literally hunting for digital cab operators in the streets.

They claim the drivers of the technology-driven cabs have rendered them jobless with their low-cost charges.

Several digital cab drivers told The Standard that a number of their vehicles have been vandalised with some of their drivers forced to suspend their businesses in the last four days.

In the last few months, digital taxi drivers have been making a killing in Kisumu as their entry into the town market continues to transform the region’s transport system.

The Standard has established that the entry of Bolt, Little Cab, Safiri and Dango taxi companies in the region has unsettled normal taxi operators.

Local residents hailed digital-linked cabs, saying the mainstream taxi operators had been exploiting them.

Change strategy

"They must change strategy because the digitised taxis are here to stay," said Joel Oloo.

He added: "Our Kisumu taxi drivers must not use violence because this will even worsen things."

In the past one week, six drivers have been reportedly attacked by mainstream taxi drivers while scores have been chased away from parking their vehicles at various malls.

Felix Onyango, the chairman of the digital taxi drivers, said they have been having a rough time in the last two weeks.

He is among the victims whose vehicles has had their tyres deflated by rogue taxi operators competing for customers in Kisumu.

“The taxi drivers have been claiming that we are driving them out of the market because of our cheap prices,” said Mr Onyango.

He noted that some of the drivers relying on apps to get customers have been victims of hostility from mainstream taxi drivers, especially at Kondele.

The scenes are a replica of the chaos that marked the entry of Uber in Nairobi where drivers of the app-linked taxis became victims of violence from mainstream taxi operators.

County Commander Benson Maweu said the drivers were yet to lodge formal complaints with his office, but said they are already investigating some incidents.

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