Uber driver partners in Nairobi are on a strike demanding for higher rates so as they earn from their services like their metered counterparts who charge nearly triple Uber prices in Nairobi.
Uber announced a 35% fare reduction last week in hopes of boosting demand. Uber, which is in now in 10 sub-Saharan markets, has been facing more competition from local and outside taxi hailing apps across the continent. In Kenya, rivals have been offering cheaper rates and customized services like boda boda, or motorbike, rides. Safaricom, the dominant telecom in the country, has also launched its own taxi hailing app, Little Cabs.
In response to the rate cut, a group of Uber and Little Cab drivers have organized their own union, the Kenya Digital Taxi Association. About a hundred protesters blocked traffic along a main Nairobi highway. Drivers refused to accept ride requests most of the day and waited outside Uber’s office in Nairobi.
The uber driver partners group is asking that Uber also lower the cut that it takes from the drivers’ earnings, from the current 25% to 15%.
Since Uber launched in Kenya last year, drivers have signed up en masse. Believing business would remain good, many have taken out loans to buy cars. Now, Uber has halted new driver applications and the number of drivers on the platform— more than 1,000—has translated into fewer ride requests per driver.