Estonian ride-hailing company Bolt has laid off over 5000 Kenyan drivers over the past six months due to non-compliance and safety-related issues as part of Bolt’s commitment to increasing safety, and ensuring the well-being of both riders and drivers.
Bolt, which operates in over 15 towns and cities in Kenya, is also planning to invest KES 20 million ($130,000) in safety-related practices. The company’s decision comes after the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) asked Bolt to address safety concerns raised over the years, including instances of physical assaults on passengers and the unauthorized selling of Bolt driver accounts to third parties. Bolt had to comply with safety measures in order to renew its annual license.
In response to the NTSA directive, Bolt developed a safety plan and discontinued its controversial “booking charge,” which previously led to disagreements among drivers and customers. The company emphasised its commitment to the safety of users, with Linda Ndungu, Bolt Kenya Country Manager, stating, “We understand the trust our users place in us, and we are taking proactive steps to ensure their well-being during every ride.”
Bolt is implementing internal safety measures, including randomised driver selfie checks, training for both riders and drivers, and strict compliance enforcement with swift consequences for violators. The company has also enhanced reporting tools to facilitate the reporting of safety concerns.
The ride-hailing platform has faced challenges in Kenya, including driver dissatisfaction due to commission rates, which includes booking fees, exceeding the government’s suggested 18%. Some driver partners have also been associated with assault and incidents of sexual harassment, impacting Bolt’s reputation.