The Kenyan National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has refused to renew Bolt's licence, dealing a blow to the popular taxi-hailing company. The decision by NTSA comes following alleged violations, including claims of illegal commission charges and booking fees imposed by Bolt.
NTSA alleges that Bolt has violated the 2022 Transportation Network Companies (TNC) Regulations, particularly concerning commission charges and an unauthorised booking fee. These regulations forbid taxi-hailing apps from imposing any charges on customers except for the commission.
Bolt's Kenya country manager, Linda Ndungu clarified that the company imposes a fixed percentage booking fee on passengers, which helps cover customer support costs and technological enhancements, contributing to a more efficient service.
The potential consequences of Bolt losing its licence could impact service users, drivers, competition in the ride-hailing industry, and government revenue. Service users may experience a reduction in affordable and convenient transportation options, and drivers who rely on the platform for income could face job losses. Furthermore, the absence of Bolt might stifle competition in the ride-hailing industry, leading to reduced incentives for innovation and competitive pricing.
Bolt's current operating licence in Kenya, issued on October 28, 2022, is set to expire in less than 17 days. While Bolt continues to work with the regulator during the licence renewal process, NTSA has made it clear that they will not issue a new licence unless Bolt provides a concrete plan to address the violations.
Recall that last year, Bolt opened its Africa head office in Nairobi, Kenya to oversee the African operations of the company and also host its top executives on the continent.