The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has eventually renewed the operating license of ride-hailing giant Bolt, ending weeks of uncertainty following threats of non-renewal due to alleged breaches and unauthorized booking fees.
In an official statement, NTSA confirmed that Bolt’s operating license will remain valid until October 2024, reaffirming the ride-hailing company’s compliance with the regulatory requirements outlined by the authority.
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“This is to certify that Bolt Operation OU has been fully licensed by the NTSA to conduct network business in Kenya pursuant to and in accordance with the provision of the National Transport and Safety Authority,” noted NTSA.
Previously, NTSA had voiced concerns regarding Bolt and other competitors like Little Cab and Uber, accusing them of violating the Transportation Network Companies (TNC) Owners, Drivers, and Passengers Regulations of 2022. These allegations included issues related to commission charges and an unauthorized booking fee.
The Bolt drivers, in conjunction with vehicle owners operating on digital taxi platforms, had also raised grievances, urging the government not to renew the licenses of Bolt and Uber due to non-compliance with the prevailing regulations. They had written a formal letter highlighting these concerns, though no action had been taken to address them.
NTSA, through Deputy Director Cosmas Ngeso, had initially notified Bolt’s Country Manager, Linda Ndung’u, that the license renewal would be contingent on the resolution of these compliance-related issues. In particular, NTSA had raised issues about Bolt’s deductions of extra fees from passengers, apart from the stipulated commission, which contravenes regulations governing all ride-hailing apps.
In response to these allegations, Ms. Ndung’u said Bolt’s “booking fee” was aimed at enhancing technological features, ultimately improving service efficiency and customer experience. Bolt has since suspended the fee.
With the renewal of Bolt’s operating license, the ride-hailing service can continue its operations in Kenya, subject to the strict observance of regulations and continued compliance with NTSA requirements. The decision further highlights the ongoing dynamic between regulatory authorities and the growing ride-hailing industry in Kenya.