Digital taxi drivers set for meeting to resolve strike

Uber drivers at Uhuru Park
Uber drivers at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, during a protest last year over a 25 per cent profit cut by the online taxi hailing app firm. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG  

The government has moved to address grievances raised by digital taxi drivers to end strikes that have hit the sector since Monday last week.

Transport principal secretary Paul Maringa on Monday said ministry officials will hold talks with digital taxi drivers Tuesday. The meeting, Mr Maringa said, is a follow-up of those held last week following a strike by the operators over low earnings and drivers’ welfare.

Mr Maringa oversaw last week’s joint meeting of players in the industry.

“We have informed the providers once harmonisation of their proposed way forward is finalised, a memorandum of understanding/agreement will be prepared for concurrence,” said Mr Maringa.

Digital Taxi Association of Kenya (DTAK) Lobby group chairman David Muteru confirmed the meeting, to be held at Uhuru Park, while stating that the drivers were hopeful that the transport ministry will have the taxi rates by all firms revised upwards.

“We are hopeful that the PS will bring to an end the issue of price war by setting minimum rates for digital taxis,” said Muteru.

Other pressing issues raised by the drivers on the go slow were the need to develop a consultative framework for continuous engagement between drivers and app owners, recognition of digital taxis drivers association, enhancing measures for self-regulation, safety and security of driver and passengers.

Digital taxi drivers went on strike last week demanding that online hailing firms raise the prices of rides. The Monday strike, which was later suspended amid negotiations with transport sector stakeholders, resulted in higher prices, longer waits and ejection of riders from taxis that continued to operate. The drivers have since been on a go-slow switching on the apps intermittently.

Currently, Uber takes the highest commission at 25 per cent, charging riders Sh16 per kilometre for Uber Chap Chap and Sh27 per Kilometre for Uber X. Taxify charges Sh14 per kilometre and 15 per cent commission. Littlecharges Sh35 per kilometer, Sh3 per minute and takes away 15 per cent in commission too.

Last year after Uber drivers went on strike in September, the company increased the prices of rides to Sh 42 per kilometre. However, in the absence of a written agreement, they have been reducing them since.