Plans for metered cabs in Nairobi raises question marks


(Posted 18th June 2014)

The Nairobi City County government has announced that come December they intend to have all taxis licensed in the city use meters to determine fares, similar to common practice elsewhere in the world.

The announcement was made by the Governor of the county earlier this week. At present it is common practice to negotiate a fare, often guided by the concierge of a hotel where guests are staying, to either reach a destination in the city, the airport or even a daily flat rate, which considering the eternal traffic jams in the city spares clients to have to pay for the time of standing in traffic. There are subsequently fears that the introduction of metered taxis will increase the cost of using cabs in the city, likely then to create a new caste of unlicensed taxis offering cheaper services. It is understood that Governor Kidero mentioned an annual permit fee of KShs 7.000 per cab or about 80 US Dollars while cabs from outside the county would from December have to pay an access fee to get into the city. It was not explained how this can or will be administered and considering the fate of the often introduced and equally often shelved speed governors in commercial vehicles there is widespread doubt that these ambitious plans can be materialized within the next 6 months, as court challenges to the new regime are very likely to substantially delay the introduction of metered cabs.

It could not be established how many licensed taxis are on the road in Nairobi though one regular source from Kenya’s capital suggested that for each licensed cab there may be one or more unlicensed ones operating and doing business with regular clients.

Many hotels operate their own limousine and minibus services for clients to offer for instance airport transfers or to take them to meetings anywhere in the city, to restaurants and to places of interest, more often than not aimed to provide their guest with a safe and insured car, at a cost of course, rather than turning it into a major revenue stream. ‘You don’t make money from shuttle bus services or providing hotel vehicles for guests to taken them places. The main purpose really is to provide them with a secure and trusted option instead of using taxis from outside because those drivers are not vetted, they may not be well trained, their cars may lack full liability insurance and there were instances when such drivers actually turned out to be rogues’ wrote a source from one of Nairobi’s leading hotels when passing the information.

Besides regular cabs and hotel vehicles are limo services now available in Nairobi, which can be prebooked through travel agents, hotels and even directly, as experienced during a recent trip to Kenya’s capital to attend a hotel conference. The organizers of the meeting arranged for stretched limo transfers through Royal Home Town Limos and Events, which offers a range of different vehicles from luxury mini busses over standard to stretched limos (, has trained driver guides and proudly boasts that all their cars are fully insured with sufficient cover for liability.

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