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Raise fares or face regulations, Uber told

Taxi-hailing app company Uber was on Tuesday told to increase its fares or face regulations.

The taxi-hailing application has shaken up the market and is now being accused of killing other companies and oppressing drivers by keeping its fares low.

National Assembly’s Transport Committee chairman Maina Kamanda said: “We don’t want to force you. If we see that you are not willing to regulate, this committee can recommend to the House that we regulate you.”

Such a decision would be legally questionable in a free market economy such as Kenya’s.

Uber charges Sh35 a kilometre and takes 25 per cent of the fare paid. “By going below Sh40-45, you are killing other players. We don’t want you to be greedy. We want you to be at par with others,” Mr Kamanda said.

The committee says price controls have been introduced in the price of fuel.

Mr Kamanda said the regulation would also require Uber taxis branded. He was backed by MPs Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinangop, Jubilee) and Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo, Jubilee).

DRIVERS BEING OPPRESSED

Representatives of the US-founded company met the committee to respond to a petition by the Kenya Taxi Cab Association, and submissions by some drivers, that they are being oppressed.

Ms Cezanne Maherali, who is in charge of policy for East Africa, said taking the fare back to Sh60 a kilometre, which Uber used to charge when it entered the Kenyan market two years ago, would not work.

“Only a few Kenyans can afford to take an Uber if we take it back to Sh60,” said Ms Maherali.

Ms Kagure Wamunyu, head of Uber in Kenya, said a reduction in fares last year, just a day before the entry of competitor, Little Cabs, was to encourage more people to take taxis.

The committee will meet the Kenya Revenue Authority to get information on how much taxi-hailing app firms pay in tax.

The team will also meet the Competition Authority to discuss issues of perceived undercutting by Uber.

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