In the first part of this series, I told you about how I joined UBER, and the shock therapy I underwent, next, I will head into THE GAME OF THRONES: UBER drivers VS KCCA and other transport operators.
The next day, I feel I have got enough data about the industry but it was not the case. The general assumption in Uganda is that UBER’s entry into the market was peaceful and faced no resistance, the assumption also holds that the special hire drivers UBER competes with actually use the platform as a marketing alternative but that was not the case. The battle for space between taxi operators has been on going but is has remained underground. in Kenya, we read stories of fights between special operators and Uber drivers where some drivers cars were even burnt to ashes. In Uganda, these stories were not there in the press. And we can put that to the excitement of a billion dollar company entering the market, and the expected advertising windfall.
Being a brother in the struggle, I asked my questions whose answers I got in the group using cautious tact not to blow my cover, I got to understand that there is a war between Uber drivers, KCCA under the guise of stickers (apparently this is the only area in Kampala where they choose to demand for these stickers) and the Special hire operators at Acacia mall. This is Uber drivers VS the rest. Unfortunately, the mall security chooses not to intervene. It is rumoured that the KCCA operatives in this area have their lips wetted enough to keep the drivers away from this golden fountain of riders/passengers. This is a rumour I failed to substantiate as it was too difficult to break through.
To the normal eye, this is a peaceful place which is good for getting drunk or showing how well endowed your pocket is, to the Uber drivers, it’s a place where horror stories are told. There are tales in the group of cars being towed, or intimidation of drivers to beat them up. It’s a comparison of watching a horror movie shot to scare the actual horror movie. One time it was said one of the Uber employees known as Elijah was once sent in to calm down these tensions.
I was however glad to know I had where to start from that day after some time. Without a KCCA sticker, I headed out for the battle ground. The tips are given to me at hand on how to avoid detection while waiting, picking up a client and dropping one was one of how a CIA operative would plant a honey pot. This even included coaching a client without their knowledge of what you are actually doing to them (psychological games). For the sake of keeping the drivers’ safe in their trade, these will not be named.
It was also here on Acacia avenue that I also drove a client of 19100 shillings, and she had a discount of 18500, she paid me 600 shillings and i just used it to buy sweets.
I did what I was told to do and got a trip to the airport. To any driver, this is a dream come true as it’s the only trip that actually has profits on it. The journey costs 93,000 UGX and fuel cost of only 20,000 to and from Within no time, we were at the airport. Here this is another proving ground that I had very little idea about.
The International Airport of Uganda between the airport taxi operators and Uber drivers. This is a conflict that has started as the Airport taxis charge a lot more than what Uber charges and moreover the Uber drivers simply want to maximise their profits sometimes charging the riders half of what the airport taxi charges (that is off Uber pricing). This always pisses off the taxi people who sat down to resolve a fight clumping Uber drivers cars.
The good thing is this war is not threatening as the CAA parking in charge lady has threatened to expel any driver who attempts to or starts any form of fighting from the airport parking.
I took off time and I identified the Uber drivers who told me that their challenges which will be shared in other articles. I was also told that If I didn’t have enough parking fees, I should leave for Entebbe town as it takes a very long time to get a request here. This is the reason as to why it’s next to impossible to get Uber at the airport after midnight.
In terms of KCCA fees, KCCA charges Uber drivers 40,000UGX a month for them to keep driving in CBD. The drivers I talked to how ever at the airport were simply saying that this war with KCCA might continue as long as they don’t go to the correct entity to collect the money, that is Uber since Uber makes so much money from the industry despite how they might wish to position themselves in the arrangement.
It would actually be easier for KCCA to collect the money from UBER, and UBER transfers the fees to its drivers, it would reduce the cost of enforcement.