If you’re in Nairobi or Mombasa and have had a difficult time hailing a ride from Uber or Taxify, it’s because many Uber and Taxify drivers are taking part in a week-long app switch off. Drivers are protesting the companies’ low rates and high commissions that they say force them to work long hours for little money.
The drivers say the fares that are charged to customers have consistently reduced as competition in the ride hailing business has soared.
While an average ride with Uber, Taxify and others currently costs about $1.50, the drivers say the cost per kilometer as computed by the tech companies is significantly lower than the costs of running a car in Kenya.
As a result, many drivers have to work long hours in order to survive the cut-throat conditions.
The drivers through their association, Digital Taxi Forum want Uber and Co to double their rates and reduce their commissions so they can earn decent wages.
Uber currently charges a 25 percent commission on each ride, while apps like Taxify and Little Car charge 15 percent.
Uber and Taxify drivers also want the government to designate the ride-hailing companies as transport companies and not technology companies as is the case currently.
Europe’s highest court made a similar ruling in December after a protracted battle, declaring that Uber was a transportation company and qualified as a taxi service.
Classifying the digital taxi services as a transport company in Kenya would bring them under the control of the National Transport and Safety Authority with more stringent licensing requirements.
‘‘Uber is currently reviewing everything that impacts driver-partner earnings. In the meantime Uber will continue to have the earnings guarantee to support driver-partner fare earnings until the review is complete,’‘ Uber said on its Twitter account.