The bad blood between e-taxi drivers and their employers (or business partners) did not start yesterday. The strained relationship between the two businesses can be traced to as far as early 2017 when Uber driver-partners downed their tools to force the American corporation to adjust its compensation model in favour of drivers. This was after the company has been running its trade in the country for two years.
See, these are drivers who were reluctant to leave their traditional taxi operations for an online replacement. The transition itself was not without issues, including cases where vehicles were torched for moving to a digital taxi platform. The problems, which have since been addressed, are a tip of the iceberg in relation to a series of grievances that have been forwarded to the taxi apps.
The success of Uber across the globe prompted it to launch in emerging markets, including Kenya. Uber is one of the first players that saw potential in the country. It was soon followed by the likes of Bolt (formerly Taxify) and Little Cabs. Currently, the market is filled with a lot of taxi apps that have been trying to bring something new to the table like reduced fares, long-distance trips, and carpooling, to mention a few. However, the core functions and operations are the same, and some of them have not made drivers happy people.
To guard themselves against abuses by their employers, e-taxi drivers sought to be represented by the Drivers and Partners Association of Kenya. The committee drafted an MoU in correspondence with the firms. It was signed a year ago, and its strong points included the need to compensate drivers well, among other perks.
Today’s go-slow is based on the MoU, of which the drivers feel it is yet to be enforced as promised. Part of the deal was to revise commissions charged on driver-partner earnings and client (riders) fee per kilometer.
The drivers say they are yet to see these changes, owing to high fuel prices, and that the firms do not consider them as employees as is the case in some countries.
The MoU, which was to be backed by representatives from the NTSA and the County Government of Nairobi, appears to have ignored if word from the drivers is anything to go by.
We will update this story should there be any developments between the firms and drivers.