The Kenya United Taxi organisation has given the government 7 days from Tuesday 2nd February 2016 to remove Uber from Nairobi or
they will bring the city to a standstill.
This comes days after reports began to surface that Uber cars were being attacked by regular taxi drivers in certain areas in Nairobi.
The regular taxi drivers claim that Uber is undercharging users and therefore driving them out of business.
They also claim that the company is not compliant with government regulations.
The last part is not true, all Uber drivers have to get a certificate of good conduct from the Criminal Investigative Department(CID), undergo training and all the cars in the service - last I checked - were registered as public services vehicles (PSVs).
Personally I have no sympathy for the old taxis.
When I did use them the fare varied wild depending on what time it was, where I was, how much English I used and how inebriated I was.
With Uber, I don't need to worry about all this the fare is the fair and I do not have to interact with the driver to determine anything. It's convenient.
Harry (Uber Nairobi Driver) with Mbugua Njihia (CEO of Symbiotic) | Uber Nairobi.
I was shocked to find out that the normal taxis actually had a organizing society that is able to call them all together so that they can strike enough to cause a disruption to the entire city. I think that their taxi association is coming at this all wrong.
It's a not so open secret that Uber is having a problem getting as many drivers as they need. I'd wager that normal cabs outnumber Uber at least 10 to 1. The fix for me is for the association to launch their own Uber-like competitor.
Something I'm yet to hear in all this hullabaloo is anyone mention EasyTaxi. Everyone I know who has Uber has EasyTaxi, well except me, and they generally use it to compare prices against Uber particularly during the surge pricing. The fact they exist together with Uber shows that they can compete.
Well, some might say, the taxis have a problem now and are looking for a quick fix. They taxi companies can license or acquire the technology from another company. Uber and EasyTaxi won't give it to them but there's another Kenyan company that plays in the same space but has been unable to compete against the financial and marketing might of Uber and EasyTaxi.
This company is called Maramoja Transport.
Maramoja Transport first came to my attention during the 2014 Pivot East competition. In those days Uber and EasyTaxi weren't here yet but the thing I liked about them most was a safety feature that they had implemented with a local security company.
I like this option because it means that we have a local startup benefiting from this situation to compete with the two foreign companies and the founders can also exit something that will inspire more tech entrepreneurs.
It's also a quick fix that can be finalized in a few weeks.
Meanwhile the Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, has come out in support of Uber saying:
“We are in a liberalised environment and those who offer competitive services must be protected. Uber operators and their clients will be protected”
How do you think the local taxis get out of this?
Sharon Mundia – an award winning fashion & lifestyle blogger, columnist at Capital FM Lifestyle | Uber Nairobi