“Evolution is an imperfect and often violent process. A battle between what exists, and what is yet to be born. In the midst of these birth pains, morality loses its meaning. The question of good and evil reduced to one simple choice: survive or perish.” – An adage that best describes Uber taxi disruption of the taxi industry.
Those are the words of a fictional character in NBC’ drama series Heroes, a genetics professor Dr. Mohinder Suresh. His words though too sci-fi, nonetheless could not be truer especially when you look at the ongoing battle between what was and what is to become in the taxi industry.
Uber brought upon commuters a convenient way of hailing a cab, yet this very same way means a change in the way of doing business for veteran taxi drivers. The drivers that adapted to Uber are now considered to be a new breed of taxi drivers who have embraced cutting edge technology in the taxi business.
However, technology does not always solve everyone’s problems. In the taxi industry, Uber is seen as favoring the commuters more than the taxi drivers; who are in it to make a living. There is an industry feeling that Uber is destroying the industry and virtually anywhere in the world where the app is present. It has received some degree of resistance, with extreme cases involving veteran taxi drivers staging a protest against Uber and even going as far as attacking drivers that have adopted the service.
Taxi drivers in Kenya are no exception; on February 4th, veteran drivers threatened to paralyze the transport system in Kenya if the government does not ban Uber from the country. They gave a seven days ultimatum for the government to honor their demands, but the government did not heed their calls.
Ever since there have been reported cases of Uber drivers’ taxis having their windscreens smashed by anti-Uber taxi drivers. The worst case of attack happened on February 22, 2015; an Uber taxi was torched to ashes by arsonist suspected to be part of the anti-Uber campaign. This particular Uber taxi was attacked after dropping a passenger in Kilimani area of Nairobi. Barely a month from that incident, this week (March 22) another Uber taxi was torched after dropping a passenger in Kawangware area of Nairobi.
That only goes to prove Suresh’s words; technology evolution is an imperfect and sometimes violent process. A battle between what is and what is to be born, and in the midst of these birth pains morality losses its meaning. The question of good and evil reduced to one simple choice survive or perish.
Uber wants to disrupt the taxi industry while veteran taxi drivers want the old ways of doing business to remain still. The two opposing camps are currently embroiled in a war that only one camp must win and survive.