The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has reportedly taken a firm stance against Bolt, a popular cab-hailing app. The authority has declined to renew the app’s operational license due to alleged infringements of transportation network guidelines.
Bolt, in anticipation of the expiry of its existing license, had formally approached the NTSA. The present license, issued on October 28, 2022, is set to expire in a short span of 17 days. The main bone of contention is the NTSA’s accusation that Bolt has been in contravention of the Transportation Network Companies (TNC) Owners, Drivers, and Passengers Regulations set forth in 2022.
Moreover, the NTSA has leveled further allegations against Bolt, asserting that the company has been making unwarranted deductions from its users. These extra deductions, beyond the usual commission, are forbidden for all digital taxi-booking platforms as per the existing regulations.
Cosmas Ngeso, the Deputy Director of NTSA, in a communique to Bolt’s country manager, Ms. Linda Ndung’u, stressed the regulator’s position. He is quoted by Business Daily as stating, “The Authority can only move forward with the renewal process of your operational license if and when the concerns raised by the driver community and their representatives are comprehensively addressed and rectified.”
Ngeso’s letter further underscored the urgency of the situation by calling upon Bolt to promptly submit a detailed corrective plan of action. The plan should highlight the actionable steps Bolt proposes to take to resolve the prevailing issues to the satisfaction of the regulator.
In defense against the claims made by the NTSA, Ms. Ndung’u provided clarity on the nature of the additional charge in question. She explained that Bolt levies a nominal “booking fee” on its passengers. This fee, according to her, plays a crucial role in ensuring efficient services. “The fixed percentage booking fee, which is borne by the passenger, is instrumental in covering the expenses associated with support services. Furthermore, it facilitates the integration of advanced technological features, guaranteeing a much-improved service experience on our platform,” Ndung’u elaborated.
It’s worth noting that Bolt’s footprint in Kenya has expanded since its inception in the country in 2016. The platform now boasts a presence in 16 towns across the nation. Furthermore, beyond the Kenyan borders, Bolt has established its services in five other African countries. This includes Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Tunisia, thereby affirming its position as a significant player in the African taxi-hailing market.