Uber taxi’s in Nairobi, Kenya have been under serious attack, sometimes leading to violent cases where damage are inflicted on the taxis and their operators by traditional taxi drivers in protests of their invasion of the market. The Kenyan government had promised to make moves to curb the menace and acting on that, the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery directed his Principal Secretary to convene an urgent meeting that would include both Uber management and the Kenya Taxi Cab Association.
The meeting was to be fixed in order to resolve the outstanding competition issues. He stated during a meeting with senior security chiefs at the Kenya School of Government; “It looks like there is competition and a bit of misunderstanding. We don’t want it to escalate into an unnecessary security problem.”
The results gotten from interviews of a cross section of Kenyans by Capital FM news showed that quite a number of them wanted Uber to stay because it provided healthy competition to Kenya’s transport sector. The taxi association however refused to be budged even threatening to mobilize members to block key roads in Nairobi next week if the competition does not exit Kenya. On Wednesday, members of the association termed Uber’s entry as ‘neo-colonialism’ of Kenya’s transport sector and the association spokesman Mwangi Mubia more simply said that Uber is like “a man trying to steal a neighbour’s wife.”
The suggested meeting was held on Monday and led to the formation of a team by the government whose aim is to formulate rules that will govern the online taxi operations. The team will be led by Competition Authority of Kenya Director General Wangómbe Kariuki and has been given just two weeks to send a report to the ministry.
The Inspector General of Police, Joseph Boinnet, in the meeting also warned that any disruption of Uber taxi operations will face the law. “Let me make it very clear that any person engaged in acts of lawlessness will be dealt with sternly in accordance with the law. We have an established mechanism of resolving disputes, and lawlessness is not one of them,” Kibicho said. So far three people had been arrested in relation to the earlier Uber attacks and they will be arraigned in court to face charges of malicious damage to property.
The taxi operators via their representatives present in the meeting, condemned the attacks on Uber’s vehicles and disengaged themselves from anyone connected with the acts. In a statement read by an official, Jon Nzioka during the meeting, they said; “We embrace technology, rule of law and peace for all Kenyans”. Hopefully they mean it and the formed committee will be able to deliver on their charge in time to halt further agitations.