Uber in Uganda has increased the minimum fare for trips following increased driver discontent. Starting Wednesday, the shortest trip on the ride-hailing app will cost Shs4,500, up from Shs3,000.
“We hope that an increase in fares will increase earnings for partners while still making it possible for riders to access affordable transport,” Uber Uganda said in a message to drivers.
The change comes after a September 19 meeting with Uber driver-partners in which they were promised some change “at the beginning of October.” The driver-partners, as Uber calls them, had stormed Uber’s offices on 3rd Street in Industrial Area over its failure to act on their grievances.
At the top of their list was the cost of trips. Other complaints included upfront pricing – which they said does not take into consideration waiting times, traffic, and other delays – and the 25% cut Uber takes from each trip. They threatened to go offline.
But the move received a lukewarm reaction from the drivers, with several noting that the fare calculations had not changed.
“It [Uber] did not increase fares; instead, it increased the minimum fare,” one driver said on a social media group of Uber drivers. Another said: “They should increase each kilometre rather than minimum fare.”
The ride-hailing space in Kampala has expanded since Uber’s entry last year, with companies like Friendship Taxi, Spesho, QuickTaxi and more recently, Taxify joining the market. Uber has remained in the lead, even with its drivers dissatisfied. Many of those drivers have also signed up with the other cab-hailing apps, but say they have more riders when using Uber.
Still, Uber has intensified its efforts to get more drivers using its app. Recently, for example, a company official finalised registration of several cab drivers stationed at Entebbe International Airport.
The startup needs more drivers and riders to break even in Kampala. As it stands, riders can only get a ride within less than 5 minutes if they request around a mall. In other places around the city, riders can wait for as long as 20 minutes for pickup. This has left many riders dissatisfied.
Uber currently has 48,000 active riders and 1000 drivers in Uganda, it said recently.
The Shs3000 minimum fare has been a sore point with drivers since Uber cut fares in February this year. As it reduced the minimum fare from Shs5000, Uber explained that lower fares would ultimately increase driver earnings because more riders will sign up. But drivers said the amount was so low and they were now “like boda bodas”.
The other fares remain the same: the charge for pickup is Shs1,100, a minute on the trip costs Shs150, a kilometre is charged Shs750, while the cancellation fee is Shs3000.