Kenyans under the aegis of the Driver and Partners Association of Kenya (DPAK) have announced the launch BebaBeba, the country’s first indigenous taxi-hailing application. Beba Beba (Carry Carry) is a word many Kenyans hear every day, most predominant among the Matutu operators (bus operators) in the country.
Over the years, the surge in the number of taxi-hailing companies in Kenya has been tremendous, and so has the competition in the taxi industry as a whole. BebaBeba will now compete in a market already saturated and controlled by taxi-hailing giants, Uber, Taxify and Safaricom Little cab.
BebaBeba was birth after a series of agitations by local drivers. “We have been subjected to losses each and every day, we have lost our vehicles through auction because we can’t afford to repay them and some of our friends have lost their lives because of long driving hours,” said DPAK in a statement released ahead of its official launch date.
So far, Beba Beba (Matutu) operations in Kenya have largely been characterised by unregulated fees, rickety vehicles, conductors and the constant rift with touts. But unlike the traditional operators, drivers will now register on a digital application by BebaBeba to get authorized before starting operations. Just like other taxi-hailing applications, registered drivers will be notified whenever there is a request for a ride through the app.
However, in this case, BebaBeba will be jointly-owned by drivers and partners through what the developers called ‘shareholding,’ a new method to that give credence to drivers. Trip prices will be solely determined by the shareholders, no price will be changed without consultations. The association also said it will “give more benefits to the drivers in the history of the taxi industry” in Kenya, a concern many of the taxi-hailing services are finding hard to solve.
Earlier this year, a coalition of Kenya taxi-hailing drivers had embarked on one week strike to demand ‘drivers higher pay and better working conditions.’ In a new development, the taxi-hailing drivers’ union is mulling another industrial action due to the unresponsive behaviour of the service owners to the MoU that was signed in July. But founders of BebaBeba seek an end to this ripped relationship by introducing new terms and conditions that address the drivers demands.
“We are very passionate about you and we resonate with the issues that all of us have been through in this industry. This is the major reason as to why we came up with Drivers & Partners Association of Kenya (DPAK) so that in the spirit of unity we can address all the issues together,” said BebaBeba in a statement sent to its registered drivers.
Prior to its launch on September 23, there are already 3,000 drivers registered to its database. The homegrown BebaBeba looks to break the hegemony of foreign operators in the country, but what remains largely uncertain is its ability to beat other taxi-hailing giants.