Following a recent report by Business Daily of a revolt by Kenyan metered taxi drivers against Uber partner-drivers, transport technology firm Uber has denied claims that it aims to run metered taxis out of business saying it has always been open to work with metered taxis all over the world, without friction or favouritism.
Speaking to TechMoran, Samantha Allenberg , Uber’s head of communications, Africa said, “Uber is all about keeping Nairobi moving – connecting people to safe, reliable and flexible transport at the tap of a button.”
“Our technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their occupancy rates and chances for profit. ”
Allenberg adds that in fact many metered taxi drivers are already using Uber’s technology to boost their incomes and the firm would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues.
“We have been engaging with metered taxi associations since early last year to find a way that we can partner with them,” Allenberg told TechMoran. “We do not feel that it should be about Uber or Taxi but rather Uber AND Taxi.”
Uber is not against the taxi association or the metered taxi drivers as it’s working with all relevant stakeholders in Nairobi and Kenya to resolve any conflicts as a matter of urgency.
“We hope tourists, business travellers and residents alike can enjoy a safe, affordable, hassle-free time travelling however they choose to get around Nairobi,” she added.
Since its launch in Nairobi, Allenberg says Uber has partnered and continues to partner with Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licensed independent operators in Nairobi. To use the Uber app, all driver-partners must be fully licensed to drive a PSV; this includes a PSV driver’s license for themselves and PSV Insurance for their vehicle.
Driver-partners then undergo a background screening process where fingerprints are matched against existing criminal records. To make up for any gaps in local records, information is cross checked by one of the leading security companies in Nairobi. Reference checks are then done with upcountry chiefs, village elders, former employers, neighbours and social acquaintances.
To clear any confusion, Uber is working on a series of activities to create awareness about its app, how its technology works and how metered taxi drivers can join and take advantage of the system. In November last year, Uber South Africa announced a $14 million (KES 1.4B) car rental deal with South Africa’s WesBank, a leading vehicle and asset finance provider.
The deal is open to both existing Uber driver-partners and metered taxi drivers to get access to cars on loans at lower prices than in the market to help them set up their fleet of passenger transport business in partnership and with the help of Uber’s technology. It might not be long before such a partnership is launched for Kenyan metered taxi drivers.
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