A spate of Uber attacks have occurred in Nairobi, Kenya, enough so that the Kenyan police force is set to launch an investigation into the issue.
The Uber taxis are an app based taxi service which now operates across 68 countries. The company launched in Kenya in January of 2015 and is arguably the world’s most valuable private company, with an estimated worth of over $50 billion U.S dollars. The traditional taxi drivers who have operated in the country for years are apparently angry at the hefty competition presented by the ride-hailing app.
Criminal gangs have attacked the drivers of the cabs and scared a few of the drivers, and although the traditional taxi drivers in Kenya may have taken the expression of their frustrations a tad too far, they are not alone in the supposed affront. The presence of the company has sparked protests in many cities in the 68 countries where it now operates.
A government official addressing the issue of violence against Uber taxi drivers assured that the offenders would face the full brunt of the law. “Business rivalry should never be settled through attacks and intimidation but rather through the established legal mechanism of resolving disputes,” Mwenda Njoka, Interior Ministry spokesman, stated.
Charles Owino, a police spokesman also told Capital FM news, “We have received numerous complaints from Uber taxi drivers complaining how they are being harassed by these other drivers and even assaulted and this is a matter we are taking very seriously,”. The Kenya’s Taxi Cab association although condemning the attacks are demanding that Uber suspend its operations in Nairobi, presenting different arguments, foremost of which is that its drivers are exempted from paying costly registration fees. Job Nzioka, the association’s organizing secretary said that the Uber cabs were undercutting taxis by failing to meet all requirements and could therefore be cheaper because they are not subjected to heavy levies by authorities.
The company acknowledging that a few isolated cases of intimidation did indeed occur, said that they were saddened by the issue as the drivers who partner with them are simply using the platform to make a living for themselves.
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