Bolt Could Have License Suspended Tomorrow, Matter is in Court

Bolt engages NTSA in license renewal as it promises 100m in network expansion

Bolt Kenya has up until tomorrow to comply with the findings of a tribunal or else it will have its recently renewed licence suspended. The Transport Licensing Appeals Board (TLB) has determined that the taxi-hailing company is operating while in violation of regulations stipulated in the 2022 Transportation Network Companies, Owners, Drivers, and Passengers Regulations. Following the findings, TLB gave the Estonian company 48 hours to prove that it complies will all regulations.

Ruling Comes After Licence Renewal

A Kenyan driver, Mr. Kennedy Wainaina Mbugua highlighted that the company lacked a physical office and local contacts. Bolt contacts are to a London office. Hence, it was not in a position to cater to client complaints. This is somewhat surprising, as Bolt has stated in the past that it has set up a Driver Engagement Centre in Nairobi. The lack of a local premise would mean Bolt does not meet the requirements for licensing as a transport network firm. Surprisingly, this ruling came a day after the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) had renewed its operation license.

This time the company could be forced to immediately halt its transportation services effective from this Friday.

The taxi firm reached out to Techweez to state its position on the matter. The company did not speak of the specific issues it is facing as the the matter is currently in court. Further, in an email message, Linda Ndungu, the Country Manager for Bolt told this publication that Bolt’s “license remains valid and normal business operations continue”.

Little App Bolt Takeover

Originally, Bolt Licence renewal had been declined by the NTSA initially due to a contention on Booking fees. According to regulations, digital taxi operators can charge an 18% commission on the total fee. However, drivers on Bolt Kenya claimed the company was charging an extra 5% booking fee.

According to an announcement from Bolt, the taxi firm indicated that the controversial fee had been suspended pending further clarification with NTSA around the interpretation of the regulation on this particular matter. Bolt claims the booking fee is simply a service fee that is paid by passengers and is not deducted from the driver’s due wages.

Speculation around Bolt’s license woes had led to a rival company mulling over a takeover. It emerged that taxi-hailing firm Little Cab had begun a behind-the-scenes battle for control of the industry and was lobbying to have a piece of the Bolt’s assets. Bolt continued operation led to an angry reaction from a Little App executive. The executive alleged that the playing field was not level as other players were operating without a license. However, this was not the case, as Bolt license had already been renewed.

Now, Bolt faces another hurdle and time will tell whether they will overcome it as they seek redress in the court.