It is rare to find cases where people have left behind lucrative earning opportunities for other jobs. The online taxi business is commonly seen as a side hustle for many, as it has allowed many to earn a decent amount.
Linda, a woman working as a taxi driver in Nairobi, is one such individual. She works with Uber, Little Cab and Bolt. She joined the taxi field in 2019 after losing her job as a hotelier.
Linda started driving with a partner’s car, until 2022 when she was able to buy her own Mazda Demio. In an interview, she suggested that she might leave the business despite earning as much as Sh. 350,000 per month.
“If you check on my app how much money I’ve made per month, I can even hit Sh. 350,000. But that is according to what Bolt is saying,” she said, noting that these are exclusive of commission, fuel and car maintenance.
She is considering leaving mainly due to the financial problems associated with the job, as well as the restrictive terms of service for the drivers, which prioritize the customer and do not adequately consider the drivers’ needs.
She pointed out that her 1300cc Mazda Demio in the online ride-hailing business could be considered a ‘fuel guzzler’. This is relative to the earnings of drivers in the business.
Linda said that she fuels nearly Sh. 6,000 daily. She advised anyone interested in joining the industry to consider buying a 650cc car instead, adding that they could also convert their engine’s fuel type to LPG.
The woman further explained that a driver’s earnings in this business are highly dependent on the number of hours they work. The work needs a lot of grit, patience, consistency and determination.
According to her, among the challenges that online taxi drivers are facing now is insurance. She said that most insurance firms are avoiding them and those who are insuring the drivers have a lot of criteria specifications that drivers ought to meet.
Linda expressed her opposition to branding her vehicle in colours due to the constant hassle of dealing with city council officers who would want to charge her for advertising.
Although she acknowledged that they compensate for branding, she didn’t think the pay was good enough. Additionally, since her car is also used as a family vehicle, she cannot opt for that option.