Uber’s new low-cost option revives row

The new product will run alongside the existing UberX service. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The new product will run alongside the existing UberX service. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Online taxi-hailing company Uber’s decision to introduce a low-cost option for customers willing to use older cars, has set the stage for a fresh confrontation with drivers.

The firm’s drivers have vowed to go on strike to oppose the lower charges.

The bargain product costing Sh30 per kilometre, Sh2.50 per minute with the base and minimum fare at Sh60 and Sh150, respectively, is cheaper than the rates adjusted upwards over a month ago after drivers contested the July price cut, which they termed unsustainable.

The new product will run alongside the existing UberX service.

Uber drivers under the Digital Taxi Association of Kenya (DTAK) umbrella yesterday held a meeting to discuss what they see as reduced driver-partner earnings from the new service.


“We are not against onboarding of old cars. Our greatest concern is the new fares, which have taken us back to the drawing board. Although signing up a car to the new product is voluntary, the reality is that there is no rider who will opt for the expensive for the same service,” said DTAK chairman David Muteru.

The new rates follow Uber’s decision to sign up older cars that were previously not being accepted, making a u-turn on the strict standards that only saw cars less than eight years old signed up to the platform.

The new service also allows cars to sign-up To Uber without going through the rigorous inspection process that was part of the process.

Uber will only require cars to undergo National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) inspection, PSV insurance and produce a log book.

“We are constantly exploring ways to ensure driver-partners can earn more through increased rider demand while ensuring riders continue to have access to safe, reliable and affordable transportation. We are currently busy with a series of driver focus groups to discuss the ways we can increase demand across Nairobi through an upcoming product,” said Uber Spokesperson Janet Kemboi.

“As drivers signed up to various taxi-hailing platforms we are seeking ways of ending the issue of price wars in totality.”

In March, Uber increased its UberX rates to Sh42 per kilometre, Sh3 per minute with a base fare and minimum fare increased to Sh300 and Sh100 respectively for Nairobi following government intervention.