Bolt Kenya has temporarily waived its 5% booking fee while awaiting clarification from the National Transport and Regulatory Authority (NTSA) regarding its license renewal.
The e-hailing company’s move comes amid an ongoing disagreement with NTSA over the renewal of its license, which the authority had initially declined due to concerns about commission charges and booking fees.
In a recent statement, Bolt reiterated its commitment to complying with regulatory requirements, asserting that its commission structure adheres to the stipulated 18% cap. The company expressed its willingness to collaborate closely with regulators to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Despite the uncertainties, Bolt continues its operations
Despite the uncertainties, Bolt continues its operations in Kenya, citing Section 32(4) of the NTSA Act, which allows the existing license to remain valid until a decision on the new license application is reached. The license renewal process is ongoing, with an expected completion date of Monday, October 30, 2023, as indicated in a letter from NTSA to Bolt.
It remains to be seen whether Bolt will reintroduce the 5% booking fee, receive the license promptly, or come to an agreement with the regulator, which had initially directed the company to adhere to the 18% commission cap.
A previous disagreement had led to Bolt Kenya’s optimism that the license renewal dispute would be resolved before the expiration of its current license on October 28, 2023. NTSA had denied the renewal application, citing concerns over illegal commissions and booking fees as the main reasons.
An exchange of correspondence between NTSA and Bolt Kenya had revealed the impending action, with NTSA warning of the potential loss of the transport network company operator license by the end of the month unless Bolt addressed the alleged breaches.
The dispute arose from regulations introduced by the Kenyan government in September 2022 to regulate the e-hailing space. These regulations capped commissions at 18% of the total fare and prohibited booking fees. Bolt obtained a Transportation Network Companies (TNC) license on October 28, 2022, which expired on October 28, 2023.
The NTSA received complaints and evidence of alleged Bolt violations, leading to the demand for clarification on Bolt’s commission structure and the cessation of alleged illegal booking fees for license renewal.
With Bolt’s recent decision to suspend the booking fee, it appears that the company is making concessions to NTSA’s demands, but the outcome and the future of the booking fee are yet to be determined.
Bolt maintains its assertion of holding a valid license and continues to operate, with plans for a €100 million investment in the Kenyan market to expand services into more areas while creating earning opportunities for Kenyans.