Frustrated digital taxi operators issue new strike notice

Taxi drivers are set to down their tools on Monday, paralyzing the majority of digital-based cab hailing services to protest the collapse of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached with taxi firms in July 2018.

In a letter addressed to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and served to the Nairobi County Government, dated Thursday July 11, 2019, the drivers represented in the Digital Taxi Forum (DTF) announced the start to an indefinite go-slow seeing no further recourse to their distress.

“We are sad to report that nothing substantial has come out of the MOU to date because the digital taxi app companies never honoured the deal citing diverse excuses,” read DTF’s letter in part.

Drivers drawn from the digital taxi app companies including Uber, Bolt (formerly Taxify) and Little Cab had on July 11, 2018 reached a return-to-work formula in the MOU, ending an 11-day stretch of an outage of ride hailing platforms after agreeing on key adjustments to pricing.

A year on, the drivers are yet to see any substantive move to real incomes derived from the platforms, this even as the digital firms remain disengaged in reaching the previously agreed amicable settlement.

According to DTF President John Kimani, the engagement with the app operators commenced immediately after the signing of the MOU even as confusion strikes the enforcement of agreed pricing terms.

“We agreed to the MOU and returned to work in good faith, the engagement between us and the taxi firms have already broken down. Further, there is confusion as to whether the national government or counties make for the mediating party given transport is a devolved function,” Mr. Kimani told Citizen Digital in a phone interview.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), who were tasked with overseeing the implementation of the MOU by the Transport Ministry, have seemingly fallen short of duty as counties who were directed by the Transport Ministry to take on enforcement matters falter.

With the MOU dead and buried in the dust, the coalition of digital taxi drivers is now seeking for a legally binding alliance to take on the pricing concerns on the back of the collapse of the good faith contract.

The proposed Association of Online Taxi Sacco’s is tipped to establish the platform for uniform standards while ensuring all online Saccos adhere to a set of rules and regulations.

Digital taxi app companies had a year ago agreed to make the concession for better remuneration to drivers through adjustments to both commissions charged on driver earnings and the customer charge per kilometer.

This was supposed to be under the guidance of the Automobile Association of Kenya (AAK) only to walk back on the promise soon after.

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