Taxi-hailing drivers’ strike turns violent on its second day
3 months ago, 19 Sep 17:37
Cases of violence marred the ongoing strike by a section of taxi drivers Thursday as both passengers and drivers reported being roughed up by goons.
Users of the e-hailing app services that were still operational were targeted on highways for continuing to work during the three-day switch off.
Witness accounts reported protesting drivers purposely slowing down traffic to scout for those disobeying the switch-off order along Uhuru Highway.
“One approached with a pair of pliers and pulled out the valve from the tyre and jumped back into the car to continue with the convoy.
“A few metres down the road they stop another can and the driver puts up a bit of a fight so they rough him up, break his window and puncture three of his tyres. Then they drove off,” Brian, a Nairobi resident caught up in the melee, said yesterday.
Police later showed up in an attempt to arrest them, he said.
Riot police dispersed those picketing outside Uber offices on Riverside Drive using tear gas and arrested scores.
The taxi operators said they were protesting low wages in a bid to push US-based Uber and Estonia’s Taxify to raise fares.
However, the lobby that called for the strike denies involvement in violence.
“I am not aware (about drivers terrorising motorists on the highway). All drivers assembled at Uhuru Park and went to Uber offices. We were teargassed immediately and arrests began,” said Wycliffe Alutalala, secretary general, Digital Taxi Forum.
“Uber has seen two claims of intimidation on social media and we have reached out for more info but please note nothing has been confirmed yet,” Uber told the Business Daily.
Taxify said most of its drivers were still online but they received reports from drivers of harassment while on trips and forwarded to police.
“We continue to meet with our drivers and their representatives and listen to their grievances in regular roundtable meetings. We have learnt that higher prices do not always mean raised earnings. We price our services in a way that allows customers to take more trips, which translates to more earnings for every single hour a driver is online,” said Shivachi Muleji, Taxify regional general manager East Africa.
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