Ride-hailing taxi drivers issue 14-day ultimatum
By Vincent Odhiambo | The drivers and owners of vehicles signed onto digital taxi-hailing applications have issued a 14-day ultimatum to digital taxi-hailing companies to hammer out a deal with them.
Top on their list of grievances is the continued drop in prices and drivers’ commissions amid rising fuel prices, and have threatened to hold a nationwide app deletion campaign, if talks to address their concerns are not held soon.
“We shall call upon all out members not to go to the streets but to use the power of the phone and delete all the companies that have refused to comply with us,” said Wycliffe Alutalala, Secretary-General of Digital Partners Society (DPS).
Top on their list of concerns is the impact of price wars between Uber and Bolt that have seen the price charged per kilometre drop by 80 percent over the last seven years from 100 shillings per kilometre to a low of 22 shillings per kilometre.
This is despite fuel prices having risen to their highest in 9 years.
“Sahii mafta imepanda iko 122 uber badala ya kupandisha bei kutoka ksh60/km ipandishe kwa sababu mafuta imepanda ikuwe hata 80 ama 100 sahii tunalipisha ksh22/km a difference of 38 shillings. A drop under the same cars under the same conditions.” Said Patrick Ombongi drivers’ representative.
“It is high time that we agree on these commissions coz it cannot be that the price of fuel is going up your price per trip is going down but your commissions are still intact.” Added Alutalala.
As a result, car owners who put their vehicles on taxi-hailing apps are recording dwindling fortunes.
This has seen their cars repossessed by financial institutions due to their inability to pay back car loans due to the continuous losses they make.
According to the DPS, an average of 20 cars are repossessed and auctioned monthly.
“As partners we used to receive Ksh.2500 per day this was Ksh.15,000 per week and Ksh.60,000 per month you could pay a loan of Ksh.30,000 and pocket a good profit. As we speak now the luckiest partner underline lucky receive Ksh.6,000 per week and Ksh.24,000 per month. This will make you top up a Ksh.6,000 from your pocket or from somewhere else to be able to pay the loan and also get some Ksh.5,000 to service the car.” Said Janet Jaybee, car owners’ representative.
The digital partners society says it now wants car owners, drivers and app companies to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a number of contentious issues that include the pricing model, commission structures, deactivation policies and social protection policies, failure to which they will abandon the taxi-hailing app firms that will fail to heed to their demands.