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Uber’s taxi-hailing app to roll out new audio safety feature in Kenya

Online taxi hailing app Uber is set to launch a new safety feature for clients using their services in Kenya. In its statement, Uber said it would introduce a new audio recording feature that clients who request a ride via the Uber app can use when they feel unsafe in a vehicle.

The feature will allow clients to record audio through the Safety Toolkit in the latest version of the Uber app in the event a safety-related incident occurs. The client’s privacy will also be protected as the audio will only be viewed if you request the Uber Support Team to review it.

“That’s why we designed our new audio recording feature, which will allow you to record trip audio and share it with the Uber Support team in the event of a safety incident. This feature will be launching soon, adding to our strong safety toolkit, and has been built taking your peace of mind into consideration,” said Uber in a statement.

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“All audio recordings are encrypted and stored securely on your device. Neither you nor your driver will be able to access them and Uber will not access which we have not been asked to,” Uber explained.

Client safety in vehicles hailed by online taxi apps was recently a subject of public interest when media personality Ciku Muiruri’s daughter and her friend were kidnapped by a taxi driver hailed via the Bolt taxi hailing app.

The two young ladies were kidnapped when they requested for a cab to pick them up from a house party in Nairobi’s upmarket Westlands area on June 4, 2023, in the wee hours of the morning. However, when the taxi arrived and the ladies got in, the driver threatened them with a hammer and sped off towards Thika.

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In the week that the ladies were held captive, Ms Muiruri updated the nation of the unfolding events as she called on religious faithful to keep her family in prayers. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of Sh250,000 but Ms Muiruri refused to pay them.

Once the week was over, sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations were able to track down the kidnappers and arrest them. The kidnappers were identified as Timothy Kiragu and Samuel Kipkurui.

Prior to this incident, several other instances of danger in cabs hailed via online apps have been reported in the country. Drivers have been accused of being violent, sexual predators, attackers and thieves. Some have even been noted to arrive to pick up clients in different vehicles from the ones indicated on the hailing apps, increasing the passengers’ risk of being kidnapped and assaulted.

This has led thousands of passengers abandoning a particular company’s services as they are accused of failing to take action whenever such incidents are reported.

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