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Mixed reactions as Safaricom's Little Cab enters Kisumu

By Dalton Nyabundi | June 21st 2017

KISUMU, KENYA: The entry of e-taxi service in Kisumu by Craft Silicon's Little Cab, a ride-hailing company backed by telecoms operator Safaricom, has rattled the taxi business in the lakeside town.

Hours after its Tuesday night launch, the app has stirred anxiety among traditional operators who fear the cheaper rates may drive them out of business.

Whereas some of the drivers welcomed the competition, arguing that such innovations were inevitable, others expressed fears of being edged out.

"There is always more and more competition, it is up to you to adjust accordingly," said Sam Juma, a cab owner who said he would sign up with Little.

He added: "When we started, there were very few other means of transport and business was so good, then came tuk-tuks and motorcycles but we are still here. So for me, although business may be affected by entry of this tech savvy company, I will still be in business."

John Wambidhi said he would not revise downwards his rates even as the cheaper Little comes in with exciting offers.

He charges a flat rate of Sh1, 000 from the Kisumu International Airport to the central business district a distance of about five kilometres. It would cost about Sh300 with Little under the current promotional tariff of Sh25 per kilometre and a base charge of Sh30.

"For us the prices are dependent on a lot of factors; the prices are for instance higher at night and on bad roads like the one heading to Mamboleo than during the day and on good roads," he said.

Kennedy Opiyo said he would sign up with the company to test the waters. He said he feared losing out business to the competition.

Little is banking on discounted rates to penetrate the market in the relatively small town where matatus, boda boda and tuk-tuks are the main mode of transports of short distances.

The company has already registered 66 drivers and is targeting 300 in the next month, most of who are the current established operators.

Kisumu ICT Executive Michael Onyango said the entry of ride-hailing would allow travelers a wide range of transports options to choose from.

He said the county government would create an enabling environment for such innovative investments.

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