Uber taxi torched, driver injured in suspected business rivalry
An Uber taxi was torched by attackers and its driver injured on Sunday night along Kirichwa road in Kilimani area.
The Uber taxi driver, Hesbon Pachety, sustained multiple burns and is fighting for his life at a city hospital.
Speaking to Nairobi News on phone, he narrated how dropped a client at around 9pm when a black car drove past him and blocked his way.
“One of the attackers alighted the from car and threw a bottle of beer at him while screaming “Uber”. A second attacker came out throwing stones. A third man armed with a wooden club also emerged and began approaching the car,” he recalled.
As Mr Pachety opened his car to escape, the man with a wooden club beat him and locked him inside the taxi.
“The man who threw a bottle of beer at me was screaming ‘Uber, Uber’, while the other one was throwing stones and the third man used a club to beat me on my stomach as he was locking the door so as I could not leave,” Mr Pachety narrated to Nairobi News.
A fourth attacker emerged from the car carrying a jerrican of petrol. He opened the back door and started pouring petrol inside the car. He then poured the petrol to the rest of the car and torched it.
Mr Pachety said the fire caught his left hand, burnt his left ear and head. When the attackers were satisfied that he was unconscious, they sped off.
Amid the pain and choking, Mr Pachety tried to open the door but it was jammed. He jumped through the window.
The burning car soon attracted passersby who helped him and took him to Nairobi Women’s hospital in Adams Arcade.
“I was lucky that I was rushed to the hospital by good Samaritans and am undergoing treatment,” said Mr Pachety.
Police said the 9pm attack was captured on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras and that they have positively identified the suspects.
Nairobi police commander Japheth Koome told journalists on Monday morning that they suspect the attack was orchestrated by rival taxi operators who have protested Uber’s operation in Nairobi.
The taxi operators have previously argued that Uber undercuts them by almost half and that its drivers do not have to pay registration fees.
“Let us respect the businesses of other people. If you have problems with them, there are other methods of solving the dispute,” said Mr Koome.
He added; “I don’t know if they know that Uber has not come here with vehicles; the vehicles are owned by Kenyans who have taken loans.”
“We have called them (the taxi operators) for a meeting before. Uber came, a few taxi firms came, but those causing trouble did not come. Then at 9pm they start destroying people’s properties. we will not allow this to happen.”