Uber and Bolt, the top digital taxicabs in Kenya currently are among the digital cabs spotted by the ministry of transport with the new requirement. In order to continue with their operations in the country, the service providers are now required to have licenses renewable after every three years.
Announcing the new rules on Tuesday, February 04, 2020, the CS for Transport, James Macharia made it clear that no digital taxi will continue operating in Kenya without a valid license from the authority.
All international digital taxi firms will have to pay an application and renewal fee of Sh500,000.
Drivers on the other hand have to part with Sh500 for application and renewal of digital operation badge.
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Moreover, only firms that are legally recognized in Kenya and have a valid binding agreement between the operator and the vehicle owner are viable for a license.
The directive states that any person applying for the said license for a digital taxi vehicle must have a tax compliance certificate from KRA, a standard form of contract between the driver and the owners of the vehicle and a certificate of registration as a body corporate.
“A digital hailing service operator must ensure that any vehicle whose digital hailing license is suspended or revoked by the authority, cannot access the digital hailing platform during the period of suspension or revocation upon communication from the authority,” Said Macharia.
He said that owners of the firms must ensure that all vehicles under the digital hailing service platform have valid insurance covers.
All vehicles must therefore have valid certificate of worthiness affixed at the back.
Before commencing a trip, the driver must provide their passengers with information about the vehicle make and model, registration number, driver’s name, photo and the estimated fare rates.
The taxi drivers are also barred from working for more than eight hours consecutively in one day. This means drivers who work continuously from morning to evening could lose their licenses.
Both Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify) have in the past been in conflict with their drivers over issues of commission. The new rules now dictate that digital hailing service operator should not charge a commission of more than 15 per cent per trip or levy charges above the commission.
This is likely to calm drivers who have on many occasions gone on strike to protest exploitation by app owners.
Currently, most firms operating in the country are charging a commission of at least 20 per cent, with Uber slashing drivers’ pay the highest at 25 per cent.
In September 2019, Bolt raised its commission to 20 per cent from the 15 per cent which they had been charging.
Uber and Bolt have more than just the Ksh. 500,000 three-year renewable license to acquire. The good thing is that this directive cuts with both edges to some extent. The authority has spoken; for now, the only option available is to comply.