Nairobi News


Ride-hailing service provider Swvl in more trouble

Shuttle-hailing service provider Swvl could be headed for more problems after National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) called for prosecution of the firm’s director.

This comes after the authority wrote to the Inspector General and the Director of Public Prosecution to prosecute the firm’s managing director as well as compel the company to cease its operation in the city.


The call for prosecution comes after NTSA revealed that the firm has been operating illegally in the capital.

According to NTSA, the app-based public service transport operator has not been licensed either by the agency or the County Government of Nairobi to ply the routes it has been operating in.

“Traditionally an operator is licensed to operate at a particular route but Swvl wants to operate in a manner that they can go anywhere,” said NTSA’s Licensing Manager Jackson Mutua during a Nairobi County Assembly Transport committee sitting.

Last Friday, NTSA impounded a number of vehicles belonging to the Egypt-based firm for operating without a Public Service Vehicle licence.

This was after the agency asked the police to impound Swvl vehicles and charge its crew and owners, accusing the company of using a tour service licence for public service vehicle operations which require a different permit.


However, Swvl CEO Mostafa Kandil said the arrests had been based on the status of the operating licenses of their partners, and not Swvl’s own compliance.

Spelling more doom for the ride-hailing firm, City Hall also confirmed that they do not recognize its operation in the city.

County Roads and Transport Chief Officer Engineer Fredrick Karanja confirmed that Swvl had tried to apply for licensing by the county.

However, this was not possible as the firm was not willing to operate on designated routes.

“They (Swvl) tried to apply and as a county we advised them that they have to follow the designated routes.They cannot operate how they want and the routes they had requested,” said Mr Karanja.

Karanja, however, said the county has no issue with the technology bit of Swvl but rather its licensing.


“The problem is that Swvl want to operate everywhere ignoring that the PSVs in Nairobi operate along routes that the have been licensed. Once they get licensed they will have to follow the existing routes,” he said.

The committee’s Chairperson Joyce Muthoni urged both NTSA and City Hall to ensure that all PSVs in Nairobi are properly licensed.

The committee also called for the two institutions to license Swvl and tax them a bit higher than the usual amounts if they want to operate in more than the designated routes.

“If they want to use more than one route then I suggest that the county to charge them higher,” said nominated MCA Mary Arivtsa.

However, Mr Karanja stated that the way forward for Swvl is to apply for the right licenses and get to know its designated routes.

“There cannot be an exemption and since they are just like PSVs, only that they use technology and other things, they should follow the routes available,” he said.