Digital Cab drivers operating under Uber, Bolt, and Little Cab on Thursday 27th October 2022 staged a protest in Nairobi and other major cities protesting over high commissions charged by the digital companies. The Drivers issued a notice of demonstration on 25th October.
The drivers held a peaceful demonstration at Nairobi Greenpark terminus to petition the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to intervene and help them get better working conditions. They have stated that the app companies take up a commission of between 20 to 25 % per trip which is too high since it is the car owners who bear costs such as fuel, insurance, relevant licenses, and servicing of the vehicles. Adding other costs such as booking fees and tax, the commission shoots to upwards of 30%.
Earlier this year, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) published regulations that cap commissions paid out to digital taxi operators at 18 percent per trip. The regulations were to take effect on 22nd September but the Chairman of the Organization of Online Taxi Drivers and Digital Taxi Association of Kenya, Mr. Zachary chairman said that the operators have refused and/or neglected to implement the directive as they are still deducting up to 30%. Uber, however, has gone to court seeking to suspend the regulations stating that it would occasion losses to it and would be detrimental to its business operations.
The cab drivers also cited the aspect of pricing. Their Chairman, Mr. Zachary Mwangi stated that the drivers do not determine the prices as the same is set by the companies which do not take into account factors such as road traffic, and fuel prices, and consequently, the drivers are left to incur losses. Presently, the price of petrol in Nairobi is around Kenya Shillings 179. The prices charged are still the same as at when a litre of Petrol was retailing below Kenya Shillings 100. In this regard, they want the prices reviewed upwards taking into consideration the increase in the cost of fuel and other related products and services.
Another issue was on discounts. A section of drivers stated that discounts offered to customers by the Companies usually end up reducing their profit margins significantly. One company has however come out to explain that the drivers are at all times compensated for the said discounts.
The drivers are pleading with the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport and Safety Authority to compel the companies to adhere to the regulations with many of them vowing to go offline until the companies comply.