Kenya Transport Regulator Rejects Bolt’s License Renewal Amid Driver Protests

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Kenyan transport regulator has refused to renew Bolt’s license, alleging several breaches, including unauthorized commission charges and booking fees. This setback comes as the Estonian company seeks to expand its presence in the local market.

Bolt had formally requested the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) for a license renewal with only days left before its expiration. However, the NTSA declined the request, citing a surge in complaints from drivers and their representatives regarding non-compliance and regulatory violations.

In correspondence disclosed by the Business Daily, NTSA Deputy Director and Head of Licensing, Cosmas Ngeso, informed Bolt’s Country Manager, Linda Ndungu, that the firm’s transport network company operator license would expire at the end of the month unless it effectively addressed these breaches.

The NTSA alleges that Bolt breached the Transportation Network Companies (TNC) Regulations, 2022, with the primary concerns centered on commission charges and an allegedly “illegal” booking fee. The regulations prohibit ride-hailing apps from imposing any charges on customers apart from the commission.

Bolt, in response, claims that the booking fee is charged to passengers, not drivers, to cover support and enhanced technological features.

Bolt, the largest ride-hailing service provider in terms of towns, currently operates in 16 towns across Kenya. The company operates in multiple African countries, serving over 47 million customers and 900,000 drivers.

To continue operating beyond October 28, Bolt must swiftly address these regulatory concerns and seek license renewal, according to the NTSA.

The NTSA has urged Bolt to provide a detailed breakdown of its commission rates and to cease what it calls an illegal booking fee. Failure to obtain license renewal would be a significant setback for Bolt, which entered Kenya in 2016 under the name Taxify.

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