Drivers win in Uber, Bolt pay row

Uber drivers at a past protest outside Parliament in Nairobi over commissions. PHOTO | NMG. 

Digital taxi-hailing platforms Uber and Bolt on Sunday cut their commissions to 18 percent in a move that has raised drivers’ earnings.

The decisions came days after a strike by the drivers who called on the tech platforms to abide by new regulations capping their charges at 18 percent but which had been challenged in court by Uber.

Uber used to charge a 25 percent commission per single ride while Bolt was at 20 percent. Little, another ride-hailing firm is charging a 15 percent commission.

The decision to cut the commissions is expected to end the regular drivers’ strikes and protests held in the past years due to high operating costs making them take home lower earnings.

The adjustment comes after the drivers went on strike on Thursday in a bid to push the firms to lower the commission charged on fares.

The slash is set to help cushion drivers at a time when the cost of living has shot up amid high fuel prices with petrol retailing at Sh178.30 per litre in Nairobi.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) on June 20 published regulations putting the ceiling on commission charged by digital taxi operators in the country on drivers at 18 percent per trip.

Under the new laws, operators’ licence will be valid for a year, should have a registered office in Kenya, and will have to be registered by the Data Commissioner as a data controller or data processor.

The law was expected to take effect three months after the notice, however, Uber had filed a petition to declare the regulation unconstitutional.

Even after the commission rate was reduced, drivers fault booking fees and value-added tax payments charged on fares.

This is despite the regulations barring operators from adding other terms that exceed 18 percent of the total earnings per trip.

“The operators have reduced the commission but it is still compensated under the booking fee,” said Justine Nyaga, chairman of the Organisation of Online Drivers.

Uber, Bolt, Little, Farasi Cabs, and Yego Global — a new operator launched in Kenya charging 12 percent commission — have received a transport network licence to operate.

Bolt and Uber say by cutting their commissions, they have now complied with the regulations.

“We (Bolt) have fully complied with the stipulated licensing requirements as per the industry regulator, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), and as such, have been issued with a Transport Network Company licence, effective 28th October 2022. Bolt has also capped its commission rate at 18 percent as per the stipulated Regulations,” Bolt said.

Uber said it will continue to find workable solutions that benefit both riders, rivers and the business.

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