Uber warns ‘violent’ protest drivers face de-registration

Some of the drivers that went strike on Monday. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Some of the drivers that went strike on Monday. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Online taxi-hailing firm Uber has threatened to de-register Kenyan drivers involved in violent protests in the wake of a go-slow over “poor returns” and “unfavourable terms” which started on Monday.

Uber, in a letter sent to drivers on Tuesday, also offered an online portal where its members and the public can lodge complaints against drivers.

“While we respect every partner’s right to express their opinions, acts of violence or intimidation threaten the trust and safety of the Uber community. Such acts will not be tolerated and Uber will permanently deactivate the account of any driver-partner who is found to be involved,” said Uber in a statement.

Drivers under the banner of Members of Digital Taxi Association of Kenya (DTAK) have vowed to continue with the slow-down until their demands are met. The drivers have decried the “un-ending offers” and “high commissions” tech firms deduct from their earnings.

The drivers are demanding that the price per kilometre be increased by Sh3 to Sh45 and that commission taken by online platform should not exceed 15 per cent. Uber takes 25 per cent of the total earnings.

In a Memorandum of Understanding to be presented to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) later in the week, the lobby is demanding that riders using mobile money to pay for the service must include withdrawal charges.

Other fees that include parking and waiting charges should be borne by the rider too. The drivers are also asking to be involvement during decision making.

“..any change in the pricing model and or introduction of disruptive products should be in consultation with DTAK and any other relevant authority such as the Automobile Association of Kenya (“AA”), where local factors will be considered to ensure a sensible return on investment..” read the statement.

Uber advised the drivers to lodge complaints using channels put in place.

“We have established channels of communication and any driver-partner can speak to us at any time. There are many ways driver-partners can let us know if they have any individual concerns.…our teams are working hard every day to find even more ways for drivers using the app to thrive,” said Uber East Africa Spokesperson Janet Kemboi.