The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) of Kenya has officially renewed the ride-hailing platform Bolt Kenya’s operating licence. This comes after Bolt proactively suspended its controversial 5% booking fee yesterday, demonstrating a willingness to resolve concerns around commission charges.
The NTSA had previously declined to renew Bolt’s licence, citing issues with the booking fee exceeding the legal 18% commission limit. However, Bolt clarified the fee was charged to riders, not drivers.
With the renewal, Bolt can now continue offering services while ensuring compliance. Country Manager Linda Ndungu expressed excitement, stating, “We are happy to receive the renewal after collaborative dialogue. This reflects our commitment to drivers’ earnings and customers’ affordable, reliable service.”
“It reaffirms our focus on a secure platform and meeting regulatory requirements. This renewal attests we remain a trusted, compliant player in ride-hailing,” she added.
Notably, Bolt isn’t the only platform with a booking fee structure, as competitor Uber also charges riders. Uber’s licence renewal status remains pending as well.
The renewal is a blow to Little, another major rival, which complained Bolt was operating without a valid licence and expressed dissatisfaction when the deadline passed, but Bolt continued services.
Previously, NTSA declined to renew Bolt’s licence over booking fee and commission concerns. In response, Bolt emphasised adhering to the 18% commission cap and pledged close collaboration with regulators for resolution.
“We remain committed to aligning fully with the legal framework and working closely with the regulator for a successful outcome,” the company stated.
By reversing the booking fee, Bolt displayed a readiness to adapt its model to address regulatory concerns. Combined with its statement affirming law-abiding operations, this action likely convinced the NTSA to renew its licence.
However, the saga highlights the complexities surrounding regulating fast-evolving ride-hailing services. More transparency and communication will be key for the NTSA to ensure fair enforcement and a level playing field.
As ride-hailing continues growing rapidly in Kenya, the NTSA must balance allowing innovation and protecting consumers. Renewing Bolt’s licence enables continuity of its services, but tighter compliance monitoring is still essential going forward.