Uber to roll out a Minibus service in Nairobi

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In a move seen to take advantage of the recent enforcement of Michuki rules in the country, Uber technologies are seeking to roll out a new Minibus service in Kenya. In a statement, a company executive confirmed a possible rollout of Uber-minibuses that will ply the streets of Nairobi. The service is currently being tested in Egypt’s capital Cairo and the Mexican city of Monterrey.

The company estimates that more than a third of Kenyans in Nairobi use the often crowded minibusses, known as matatus, as their main form of transport around the city, Uber’s East Africa General Manager Loic Amado said.

“We want to be part of the transportation ecosystem in Nairobi and matatus are a big part of how people move around,” he said, adding the feature would be available on the Uber app. The company already operates Uber Pool and Uber Express Pool in cities such as London and New York, so taxi drivers can carry more passengers heading to the same or nearby destinations.

Uber, which launched in Kenya four years ago and now has 6,000 active drivers, is seeking an edge over rival operators in the East African nation, such as Estonian ride-hailer Taxify and Little, set up by Nairobi-based Craft Silicon.

Once the service is proven in Nairobi, it could be expanded to Kenya’s neighbors, such as Uganda’s capital Kampala and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The idea would be to apply it to vehicles carrying up to 16 people, added Amado.

The company executive said the new Uber product would allow customers to track and trace the minibusses. “It would help reduce idle time at the bus stop during slow hours,” said Jackson Onyinkwa, chairman of one of Nairobi’s matatu associations. His association has 46 vehicles.

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The government announced this week measures to bring more order to the matatu industry, seeking to curb traffic violations and overcrowding.

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