Government asks Uber to offer Kenyan drivers better remunerations in a bid to end impasse

The government directive comes in the backdrop of an ongoing strike by Uber drivers who went on a go slow last week, demanding better remunerations.

 

Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera, in a statement sent to newsrooms on Monday, said that they have recommended a raft of bare minimum collaterals to both parties, the drivers and the owners, to facilitate a return to normalcy within the shortest time possible.

“The government would like to assure all stakeholders, including the Uber customers that it has seriously considered their concerns and adequate measures will be mobilized to ensure an amicable solution and result is achieved,” said Mr Nyakera.

The government directive comes in the backdrop of an ongoing strike by Uber drivers who went on a go slow last week, demanding higher rates citing low profits occasioned by the low prices being charged by the cab company in its cheap pricing model.

The San Francisco-headquartered taxi e-hailing giant, Uber is also looking for new premises after it was forced to vacate its representative office in the Mirage, Nairobi on Friday.

Unruly drivers who were on strike marched up to the premises where they forced other businesses to shut down, leading to the land lord to issue a vacate order to Uber.

Uber has vehemently denied the allegation it was forced out though drivers working under Uber who tried to access the premises yesterday were turned away by security guards.

“I wanted to inquire about my account details but I have been told to wait for a week until Uber finds another office,” an Uber driver said.

On Monday, a parliamentary committee termed the online taxi services a "pyramid scheme" following revelations that it skims 25 per cent of all revenues, leaving the drivers to cater for other expenses such as loan repayments and insurance.

Uber taxi drivers narrated their ordeal to the Transport committee on how they have been trapped in slave-like contracts with the faceless company registered in the Netherlands.

"The drivers are stranded and at the mercy of banks and auctioneers, when they come, they offer very good incentives. They even give you money to stay online. Once you're inside, many complications arise. How do you repay your loan when they reduce their fares?" one frustrated Uber driver broke down as he narrated his situation to the committee.

The committee heard that operators were caught up in divide-and-rule tactics employed by the foreign company, which they claimed had taken advantage of legal loopholes to ride roughshod over them and dodge the KRA tax net.

Since its launch in January 2015 in Nairobi, the company has battled several challenges and resistance from regular taxi operators who have opposed its model of choice, cheap pricing, arguing that the model adopted by the company has taken away their business.

Labour unions have also argued the model denies many drivers social benefits such as medical covers etc. since they are not considered as Uber employees.

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