Bolt Kenya drops booking charges as it waits on licence renewal update from NTSA

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Bolt’s operating licence update will be determined today. To appeal for a favourable outcome, Bolt has dropped booking charges.

Bolt Kenya will get an update on the status of its operating licence renewal from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) after the exercise was halted a few days ago

. “The licence renewal process is currently in progress with constant engagement and collaboration with the National Transport and Safety Authority, and it is expected to be finalised by Monday, October 30, 2023, as per letter by NTSA to Bolt,” Bolt Kenya said in a statement. A contentious issue in the licence renewal process is an “illegal” 5% booking fee which Bolt has now suspended. 

In November 2022, Bolt and Uber introduced booking fees after Kenya’s Ministry of Transport directed all e-cab companies to reduce their commission to 18%, slightly lower than their standard 20% charge. The booking fees, which are paid by customers, helped the taxi-hailing companies circumvent the reduced percentage. 

Per Bolt, a booking fee is for “covering support and enhanced technological features that ensures an even more efficient service on our platform.” Uber charges an even higher amount and defends it as: “A maximum possible booking fee of 11% is charged which is separate from the fare calculation above. A portion of the booking fee covers taxes, such as VAT. Uber is required by law to charge drivers VAT on the service fee. Therefore, to avoid reducing driver earnings, this booking fee is used to cover the VAT and is remitted to the KRA.”

The NTSA also has concerns related to driver and rider safety. While the taxi app is incredibly popular in Kenya, customers have accused its driver partners of sexual harassment and assault. The NTSA asked Bolt to give details about how it would address these concerns as part of its licence renewal agreement.

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