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“We can’t even sustain our side chicks,” Uber drivers decry huge taxes

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Uber drivers in Kenya have decried the harsh working environment they operate in.

The drivers are also lamenting over diminishing percentages of the income they get per trip.

Uber drivers chairperson in Kenya John Kimani, drew a grim picture of their situation, using KSh200 as an example.

“25% of that KSh200 is taken by the app company. Another 25% is taken by the vehicle’s owner in cases where the driver is not the owner,” John said. “The rest is taken by the city council, and Communications Authority, leaving the driver with KSh15 per trip.”

A major issue arising is that ride-hailing companies were registered as communication companies, rather than transport ones, thus evading certain deductions.

“The company takes away from us but is never taxed from their side because they operate as a digital company,” Mount Kenya Uber Association chair Patrick Mwangi claimed.

The unregulated entry of competitors into the market has pushed down fares, further straining driver income.

The associations called upon the government to treat them as employees, and regulate entry of new ride-hailing companies into the transport industry.

“The government should recognize us as normal employees, and let us enjoy NHIF, NSSF like other Kenyans,” Thika Tuktuk Association chairman Mwagu Karanja said.

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Mwangi further said that Uber drivers would be kicked out of business or die of frustrations, if the government will not help them.

“An Uber driver cannot even sustain a side chick because they don’t have money. Their lunch nowadays is a KSh20 cup of tea and KSh10 mandazi,” Mwangi said.

Supreme Court ruling

This comes as the Supreme Court in UK ruled on Friday that Uber drivers be considered employees and not self-employed.

In effect, Uber drivers would start enjoying a monthly salary, government benefits, holiday pay and so on.

In the ruling, Lord Leggatt defended the court’s verdict terming various factors were looked into:

  • Uber sets the fare, which meant that they dictated how much drivers could earn.
  • Uber sets the contract terms and drivers had no say in them.
  • Request for rides is constrained by Uber who can penalise drivers if they reject too many rides.
  • Uber monitors a driver’s service through the star rating and has the capacity to terminate the relationship if after repeated warnings this does not improve.

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