Bolt Kenya has temporarily suspended its 5% booking fee while it seeks clarification from the National Transport and Regulatory Authority (NTSA) regarding the renewal of its operating license.
This decision comes in the midst of an ongoing dispute with the NTSA over the renewal of Bolt’s e-hailing license.
The NTSA had previously declined to renew Bolt’s license, citing concerns over alleged illegal commission charges and booking fees, among other allegations. Bolt’s move to suspend the booking fee is intended to seek clarity on the interpretation of these regulations.
In an official statement released, Bolt reiterates its commitment to adhering to regulatory requirements. The company affirms that its commission structure complies with the stipulated 18% cap and pledges to work closely with regulators to achieve a successful resolution.
“We want to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to operating within the bounds of the law, ensuring that our operations fully align with the legal framework. We remain committed to collaborating closely with the regulator to ensure a successful outcome.”
In light of these developments, Bolt has continued its operations in Kenya, asserting the legality of its current license under Section 32(4) of the NTSA Act. This section allows the existing license to remain in force until the application for a new license is officially determined. The license renewal process is currently ongoing, with an expected completion date by Monday, October 30, 2023, as indicated in a letter from NTSA to Bolt.
It remains uncertain whether Bolt will reintroduce the 5% booking fee if it receives the license soon or reaches an agreement with the regulator, which had previously directed it to adhere to the 18% commission cap.
A few weeks ago, Bolt Kenya expressed optimism that the ongoing dispute regarding the renewal of its operating license would be resolved before the expiration date of its current license on October 28, 2023. NTSA had denied Bolt’s application to renew its Transport Network Company license, citing concerns over illegal commissions and booking fees as the main reasons for the denial.
NTSA Acting Director General Cosmas Ngeso had stated that the Authority received complaints and evidence of Bolt violating regulations. While Bolt’s Country Manager, Linda Ndungu, denied charging drivers a commission above the approved 18%, she acknowledged charging a fixed booking fee to ensure platform efficiency.
The latest development suggests that Bolt has decided to temporarily comply with the NTSA’s demands and suspend the booking fee. However, the ultimate outcome regarding the license renewal and the potential reintroduction of the booking fee remains uncertain.
Despite these challenges, Bolt maintains that it possesses a valid license and continues its operations. The company also announced a €100 million investment in the Kenyan market to expand its services into more cities and town centers while providing earning opportunities to Kenyans.