Digital Taxi drivers protest against exploitation by hailing firms

Written By: Anne Mwale/Dennis Rasto
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Over 500 digital taxi drivers in Nakuru now want online taxi platforms to raise the prices of rides and reduce the percentage of commissions they charge taxi operators.

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The Kenya Digital Taxi Forum (KDTAF) said prices were so low that they can neither maintain their cars nor earn salaries from them, adding that 15  to 20 percent user rate commission charged by the hailing firms are too high.

“We are not against discounts offered by the companies to stay competitive, but we want to be consulted. Low prices and high commissions are adversely affecting our earnings,” KDTAF Secretary General Wycliffe Walutala said.

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According to Walutala, the taxi hailing firms should take into account the working environment of the drivers and risks involved before setting up prices.

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Wasili Cabs was the pioneer digital firm to venture into Nakuru, followed by Safiri and Bolt Cabs and the three operators have gained popularity opening the door for more online cabs and in the process a crowded market.

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Walutala said due to low fares, the drivers are forced to spend at least 20 hours behind the wheel to make anything meaningful, a situation he said not only endangers the drivers and the riders but also other road users.

The Secretary General noted that hailing firms’ management did not consult the KDTAF whenever they revised commissions upwards or lowered fares to remain competitive.

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The operators are aggrieved that the dominant companies have been engaging in price wars, much to the detriment of the drivers and third party vehicle owners.

Two years ago  the digital taxi operators among them Uber, Bolt formerly Taxify, Little Cab signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Transport, to establish a workable solution to end conflicts between the parties.

Unfortunately, Walutala says nothing substantial has come out of the MOU because the digital taxi app companies have refused to honour it.

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