Nairobi has had its fair share of taxi trouble, just like any other big city. For many years it has been very expensive to pick and use a taxi, despite the fact that you could not compare Nairobi with a city like Frankfurt. We have very few happy stories to say about Taxis and Taxi drivers.
It was a celebration when Uber finally launched in Nairobi, but it did not come without a fight. Just like the story of Uber in New York, Brad Stone narrates in his book The Upstarts, the difficult road that Uber had to go through in San Francisco and New York City.
Uber fought all wars in those cities. They fought with the taxi drivers, they fought with the city authorities, they fought with the market and they had to fight technology too, making sure that it worked and improving on it on the go. In Kenya, just like any city resisting the disruption, Taxis wanted to keep their cake. Whether it has worked for them is their story to tell.
But slowly and surely this have really changed in Nairobi. I do not take Uber a lot but of late I have noticed the sudden influx of white miniature Suzuki Alto’s on the roads, all with ‘KCP’ number plates and branded “Uber Chap Chap”, Just like you, I have been asking a lot of questions.
Today while sitting with a friend at Java House on Wabera street, I requested for an Uber, this time the Uber Chap Chap, which was the cheapest of all on the offers I was looking at on the screen. But apparently our driver was really far and stuck in traffic, so we sat and waited. Later he called me and requested we change out pick up location to Sentrim 680 Hotel, he had just dropped his client somewhere downtown.
There we were in this small car, a Suzuki Alto, looking very new, with very less electronic operations but a good stereo. Its as white as the snow, with a 800cc engine resting in the hood. Five speed manual transmission gearbox, the driver….a very mature gentleman who didn’t mind telling me a little about Uber Chap Chap, and on this particular car, the mileage was at 5000 km.
Uber Chap Chap launched in Nairobi in February after a testing phase in late January and since then, they are literally in every stop of the road you would be looking at. Some of them come branded while others are not. An agreement between Uber and Stanbic Bank gives the rider a security-free loan which is payable over three years.
The Uber drivers with high ratings between 4-6 points are the ones who were lucky to get to this plan. The rider pays Ksh. 30,000 a month for three years. After which, he/she will gain full ownership of the car. The cars are straight out of the showroom and cost roughly Ksh 800,000. They are provided by CMC Motors Africa.
For my friend, its not her first time on Uber Chap Chap, she has been a customer, she picked on and her bill was only Ksh80 from Yaya to her House. And she praised the driver who dropped her to town, a nice man with mature conversation. Today, our bill was Ksh220 from Sentrim 680 to Mimosa Court.
What i look for when moving from point a to point be is to just get there with less hustle. At least most of us look for that, and Uber Chap Chap has it. But then not more, if you are one of those people who want to as we say it “Arrive” then you picked the wrong car. The car can carry five people of average weight and that includes the driver.
My experience was wonderful, will I request again for an Uber Chap Chap, why not. When you request yours, lets see how much you are paying.
Enjoy your ride, with Uber Chap Chap.