Digital taxi operators back on roads without a deal


Digital taxi operators back on roads without a deal

In Summary

  • The operators resumed duty after reaching a consensus with a section of taxi firms on Friday last week.
  • While Little and Bolt (formerly Taxify) have rejoined the negotiation table following the disintegration of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), reached in July 2018, Uber is yet to engage the operators.
  • At the same time, Bolt has since the fresh industry strike dropped its Go option, eliminating the lowly priced category in a means to prop up returns for its affiliated cab-drivers.

Digital taxi operators under the coalition of the Digital Taxi Forum (DTF) have resumed duty on Kenyan roads barely two weeks into the issuance of a fresh strike notice.

The operators resumed duty after reaching a consensus with a section of taxi firms on Friday last week.

According to DTF President John Kimani, low returns for both drivers and firms have catalyzed fresh negotiations to the impasse even as the operators remain stuck on a review to the industry’s pricing regime.

“We are an informal sector according to our nature of business. Unlike waged employees who receive salaries at the end of the month even during strikes, the go-slow was hurting us somehow,” Mr. Kimani told Citizen Digital.

“As the majority of app companies are now at the table, we are seeking to find a way to work together in the meantime”

While Little and Bolt (formerly Taxify) have rejoined the negotiation table following the disintegration of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), reached in July 2018, US based Uber is yet to engage the operators informing of the unavailability of key officials at this time.

At the same time, Bolt has since the fresh industry strike dropped its Go option, eliminating the lowly priced category in a means to prop up returns for its affiliated cab-drivers.

The Interior Ministry, which now makes up the oversight authority for the National Transport and Safety Association (NTSA), is expected to spearhead talks between the disgruntled parties with a view of reaching an amicable settlement to the year-long scrap on remuneration.

At the same time, the coalition of digital taxi operators is seeking to form a legally binding alliance to take on the pricing concerns in the wake of the failure of a good-faith backed conclusion of 2018.

DTF had began its engagement with the owners of the digital taxi platforms in the aftermath of the MOU signed under the stewardship of the Transport Ministry which at the time governed the operations of the NTSA.

The digital-taxi drivers now seek to raise the average charge on consumers per kilometer to at-least Ksh.38 from a current low that touches Ksh.16 on the rear-end, having factored in associated costs to the operations of the taxi-service.

The Automobile Association of Kenya (AAK) is on its part expected to create the roadmap for a new pricing regime in the industry that composes mainly of vehicles with an average engine capacity of 1300cc.

The pricing of the digital taxi services including commissions charged on drivers and security has been a sticking point in the infant industry with associated cab-drivers narrating of hardships to making ends meet in the formerly lucrative space.

While industry stakeholders re-take their positions on the negotiations table, the digital taxi operators are well aware of pitfalls that lay ahead in the sustained contention for better compensation.

“We are just being optimistic and are still hoping that something comes out of this process,” Chairman to the Digital Taxi Association of Kenya (DTAK) David Muteru  said.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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