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September 24, 2018

Rivalry forces Uber and Taxify to meet with NTSA separately

Uber’s East Africa general manager Loic Amado poses for a picture near a vehicle of Uber operating taxi at a parking lot in Nairobi, Kenya February 12, 2018 /REUTERS
Uber’s East Africa general manager Loic Amado poses for a picture near a vehicle of Uber operating taxi at a parking lot in Nairobi, Kenya February 12, 2018 /REUTERS

The on-going discussions between taxi operators who work using digital apps has revealed a frosty relationship between the foreign owned apps.

Estonian app owners Taxify will meet the government agency NTSA today at their offices in Westlands, while American app owners Uber will hold their meeting on Monday.

According to leaders of the driver-partners, the two groups do not see eye to eye. They categorically said they cannot sit in the same room.

The frosty relationship began when the Estonian app stormed the Kenyan market, offering appetizing rates for drivers. The drivers then campaigned and marketed the app, and riders started to use it more. This meant more returns for drivers, since commissions to the company were lower.

Uber would respond with discounts to riders, attracting back the clients to the app. However, the price wars have been going on much to the detriment of partners. This has resulted in a number of protests as driver-partners sought better pricing models that enable them go back to profit-making.

“The two meetings will address the rising cost of fuel, which is our operating cost in business,” said David Muteru, chairman of Digital Taxi Association of Kenya, DTAK. So far, only Kenyan-owned Little has raised the rates for drivers both in line with the MOU and recently to respond to the fuel price hike.

The memorandum of understanding signed between taxi operators in Digital Taxi Forum (DTF) and Digital Taxi Application Providers (DTAP) will be expected to address the escalating cost of running the business, as well as welfare concerns of drivers.

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