Uber Revolution: Nairobi Taxi Drivers Cry Foul

Uber Revolution: Nairobi Taxi Drivers Cry Foul

San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc, a company that allows users to summon a ride on their smartphones, is facing another uproar from taxi drivers, this time in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, for what they term is unfair business practice by the global giant.

According to a report by Business Daily, taxi drivers in Nairobi have said they would attack Uber partners operating in the African city for taking away business from duly registered operators.

Uber, which has faced similar threats in other markets it operates in — including South Africa, moved quickly to warn its drivers after receiving the threat.

“We have received reports of isolated intimidation and harassment of our partner-drivers at the Oval — a commercial building complex — in Nairobi’s Westlands,” Uber Africa’s spokesperson, Samantha Allenberg, said in a message sent to partner-drivers.

“Please be alert and aware in this area by concealing your Uber device and ensuring that your pick-ups and drop-offs take place in public, well lit areas.”

Nairobi taxi operators are complaining that Uber’s pricing model is uncompetitive has it allows drivers signed up to the tech service to charge less than half what other drivers charge over the same distance.

Uber, considered one of the fastest-growing companies globally, has come into serious head wind with regulators in France, Spain, Netherlands and even in Cape Town where police impounded 33 Uber vehicles in a dispute over what type of permits drivers should hold.

AFP dubbed the widespread protests ‘Uber revolution’ as the company’s executives faced trial in Paris, its offices got raided in Amsterdam, and rape allegations mounted in Delhi.

Despite these challenges, the taxi service app company that operates in over 250 cities in the world — up from just 35 in September 2013 when it launched Uber in South Africa’s capital, Johannesburg — still sees a huge opportunity in partnering with taxi service operators in African cities.

Alon Lits, general manager of Uber Johannesburg told AFKInsider on the sidelines of Social Media Week Johannesburg in September 2014 that the global tech firm was “very excited about Africa” and was seeing it as “a huge market”.