Uber taxi drivers go on strike, demand higher rates

Uber taxis at a parking lot in Ngara, Nairobi. /COURTESY
Uber taxis at a parking lot in Ngara, Nairobi. /COURTESY

A section of Uber taxi drivers have gone on strike in a demand for higher rates because of low profits.

They said on Monday that they use a lot of fuel to get to their clients only for the rides to earn them very little.

"At times we wish we knew the cost of the journey in order to have the option of cancelling it but we do not," a driver who did not want to be named said, claiming they spend up to Sh150 on fuel for a ride that costs Sh200.

"So we want Uber to start charging immediately the request is made, not when the client gets to the car. We also want Uber to reduce its percentage [earning]."

The driver said the service keeps 25 per cent of what they make but that everyone involved would make money if this declined to 10 per cent.

The operators said they will turn off the service and hold a meeting in Ngara to discuss their strategy.


The taxi company launched its services in Nairobi in January 2015, and has since branched into towns including Mombasa and Thika.

Uber taxis calculate fares based on distance covered and time spent. The price is Sh60 for every kilometre covered and Sh4 per minute, in addition to a base fare of Sh100.

The San Francisco-based taxi e-hailing giant also has price surges, where it increases rates by a multiple, say 1.5 times, in the event that demand cannot be met by the number of cabs in service.

Uber drivers faced major resistance from regular taxi operators when they joined the market.

Regular cab drivers were disgruntled over Uber’s cheap pricing model, which they argued had taken away their business, and had been plotting to push the competition out of Nairobi.

The company slashed its prices by 35 per cent in June last year just as Safaricom launched its own online taxi-hailing app, Little Cab.

Little Cabs stepped up competition, promising to give drivers a bigger share of the revenue than similar taxi services.


Uber driver complained last week that they were not being allowed to operate at the JKIA and that their vehicles were getting clamped and the operators forced to pay fines.

Kenya Airports Authority condemned the alleged harassment at the Nairobi airport but urged the use of officially registered yellow airport taxis to avoid such incidents, until a solution is found.

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