Back to matatu chaos as NTSA bans bus ride-hailing services in Nairobi


Passengers who had come to love and become accustomed to the convenience and comfort that came with booking a bus ride on an app will now have to revert to the chaotic matatu rides after the government Tuesday barred app-run shuttles from operating in the country.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) stopped Little Shuttle — serviced by sister company Little cab — and SWVL, and Egypt-based shuttle-hailing services from operating in Kenya.

NTSA’s Director General Francis Meja said in an interview that the service has been operating in the country illegally.

The point-to-point shuttles which operate a time and distance-based billing service anchored on the same concept of the taxi-hailing apps, will grind to a halt today.

Route expansion

Little Shuttle started operations in February, while SWVL has been in the market since the start of the year and recently secured Sh1.5 billion funding to finance an aggressive route expansion plan in Nairobi.

Little shuttles was connecting passengers between Kahawa Sukari, Westlands, Bomas, Upper Hill and the city centre.

Kino to the CBD via Upper Hill, and Kinoo to South B, with planned expansions to other parts of the city in the pipeline.

SWVL have been plying CBD to Westlands, Thika Rd, Eastern Bypass, Tatu City and Embakasi.

They were becoming popular with the working class looking to comfort and avoid the chaos associated with matatus.

Set permits

NTSA Monday said the digital matatus remain suspended until they get the set permits or seek exemption.

“Let them just follow the law so that we can facilitate them to do business in Kenya… It’s a fact that you cannot do business in Kenya without a proper licence.” Said Mr Meja.

The PSV permit requirements include being a member of a sacco, must have staff that includes mechanics, fixed routes among others.

“The buses we operate have countrywide TLB licence, which allows us to move on any route. We do not operate as a matatu on fixed route.

“Our route is based on supply and demand software technology,” said Little CEO Kamal Budhabhatti in an interview.


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