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Uber passenger fares increased over high fuel prices

Ride-hailing firm Uber Kenya has increased passenger fares to appease its registered drivers ruffled by recent sharp rise in fuel prices. The company said it increased the fare to “support drivers to increase their earning opportunities” and meet high operating costs.

The move by Uber follows complaints by some of its drivers who said their margins had reduced after fuel prices were increased by Sh9 by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) mid-last month, leaving a litre of super petrol retailing at Sh159.

“Our commitment to drivers is to continuously find ways of maximising their earning potential while meeting the needs of the riders. As part of our regular engagements with drivers, we increased fares to help drivers with the recent spike in operating costs,” the company stated but declined to disclose the new rates when asked by Nation.

The company said it was monitoring the situation, especially in the global market, and would effect changes based on riders’ and drivers’ feedback.

“We continuously engage directly with drivers using our various engagement channels to work towards addressing any issues,” said the company.

Uber made the move even as its rival, Bolt, was reported to be in talks considering a similar move. Bolt has, however, not issued any official communication yet.

The ride-hailing companies are raising fares, even as the government tightens the noose on their operations, capping commissions they earn from drivers at 18 per cent per trip, in a move to protect the rights of drivers.

The 18 per cent cap will also apply to the commission paid by the owners of the vehicles registered to the various digital taxi companies.

The government’s move will affect firms such as Uber, Bolt, Little, and other digital taxi companies.
Uber will be affected the most by the government’s new directive since it has been charging commissions of 25 per cent from drivers, while Bolt and Little have been charging 20 and 15 per cent respectively.

“The commission which shall be paid by a transport network driver or a transport network owner to the transport network company, shall not exceed 18 per cent of the total earnings of the trip,” new rules published by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia stated.

The move to cap the commission follows frequent strikes by drivers who decried the fees as extortionate. Capping of the commission is set to be in favour of the taxi partners who have for a long time decried the charges, terming them unsustainable.

The ride-hailing firms have been increasing commissions they earn from drivers in the past, as the market gained attraction with more Kenyans embracing their services across the country.

The new rules exclude entities or companies providing street-hailing taxi cab services, limousines, or other transportation services arranged by a method other than through a transport network platform.