Taxi hailing app drivers reject imposition of digital tax
By Vincent Odhiambo | Drivers and owners of vehicles used by digital taxi-hailing app companies have opposed the imposition of digital tax on their earnings.
Drivers and vehicle owners want the government to regulate the digital applications under the Kenyan laws and impose the digital service tax on the companies instead.
“We’re not going to allow a situation whereby after a driver paying uber 25 percent commission which is illegal, again he’s taxed again 1.5% digital service tax.” Said Wyclife Alutalala – Secretary General, Digital Partners Society (DPS).
They are lamenting over poor working conditions, motor accidents, murder, kidnapping and property loss through auctions.
The drivers want social protection benefits including medical insurance and social security incorporated into their pay, in line with a recent court ruling in the United Kingdom that recognised digital taxi drivers as employees.
The new taxes come at a time when curfew restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 are limiting operating hours for digital taxi cabs.
They are calling for sanity in the industry, which is regarded as Public Service Vehicle (PSV).
“It’s about time we brought sanity to this industry because we’ll end up being double-taxed kwa sababu app company inasemekana ilipe tax na mimi pia dereva nilipe tax.” Said Mathew Lesanjo, a Nakuru taxi-hailing app drivers representative.
The UK Supreme Court Friday ruled that uber drivers were to be considered workers and not freelance contractors, thereby, making them eligible for all employment related benefits such as minimum wage, annual leaves, and insurance.
They also want the Kenyan government to enact similar similar moves which will enable them enjoy dignity in a working space just like any other employee in the country.
“We’re calling upon the cs for Labour to ensure that all Kenyan drivers working under the digital transport forum specifically uber bolt and little cab start enjoying the labor rights as enshrined in our constitution and our labor laws as normal workers.” Said Alutalala.
The drivers have threatened to go on strike or even abandon foreign taxi applications for Kenyan apps if they do not play ball.
“Ambia dereva yeyote leo akupatie mia, hana hio pesa. They’ve been struggling to work Monday to Monday. Huyu ni mtu hata shati hawezi afford because there’s somebody somewhere that benefits from the sweat of this driver. Mwenye gari inafika point hawezieka gari miguu kwa sababu the percentage charged by the app companies would not be enough to pay the driver to pay the car loan and service that vehicle.” This is according to Mathew Lesanjo, an uber driver from Nakuru County.
Kenyan drivers now want the government to fasten the process of coming up with regulations which will ensure the digital hailing apps are governed by Kenyan laws.
Their call comes nearly two years after the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) proposed a raft of measures nad the regulations of digital hailing in the country.
Among the proposed measures is the prohibition of digital taxi hailing service operators from charging a commission of more than 15 percent, as well as levying or charging other charges, levies or fees over and above the commission.