Competition in Kenya’s capital, including from Little Rides, backed by telecom giant Safaricom, forced UBER’s local management to revise tariffs downwards to protect their market share, but the move resulted in bad blood with their drivers almost instantly.
This spells out that the honeymoon for UBER drivers in Nairobi is now clearly over as drivers returned to the streets following another strike, aimed to compel the company to pay them higher tariffs and take less commission.
Given the rising cost of fuel in Kenya, and other inflationary pressures, drivers have indicated that unless they are given a much better deal than presently offered by the company, they may ditch UBER and become independent operators once again or else join other groups.
The recent outburst by UBER CEO Travis Kalanick against a driver, widely reported around the world and also noticed in Nairobi of course, did little to calm the stormy waters in the Kenyan capital as this sort of reaction has been seen among the company’s Kenyan management as well, which has remained dictatorial rather than seeking proper dialogue with drivers.
The Kenyan government also entered the fray, but talks so far have yielded little results, and the government, unlike with striking civil servants, has little legal options but to let the tariff dispute play out in the open court of public opinion and among e-hailed cab users.