SWVL pulls app-based buses off the road one month after NTSA issued orders
Egypt-based bus-hailing app SWVL has finally complied with an order from transport regulator, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), and halted their services on most routes in Nairobi.
This comes one month after NTSA asked the digital public transporters to cease operations or face arrests for operating under Tour Service License but engaging in commuter services.
On Tuesday, the app service notified users that it was experiencing disruptions on its routes and was working on compliance with the rules laid out by NTSA by the end of the month.
“We would like to inform our customers that we are experiencing disruptions on some of our routes. The affected areas are: Kasarani, Wangige, Jogoo Road, Westlands, Kiambu. We are working closely with regulators to ensure that our drivers are all compliant in the next few weeks. Until we achieve full compliance, some of our rides may be cancelled and we will have to closely monitor our routes,” Shivachi Muleji General Manager, SWVL Kenya said in a statement.
NTSA last month asked the police to impound SWVL vehicles and charge its crew and owners, accusing the firm of using a tour service licence for public service operations which require a different permit.
The NTSA order had also affected Little Shuttles, one of SWVL’s competitors, which suspended operations after the order.
In a notice from the NTSA Deputy Director Communications Dido Guyatu, the authority said it has blacklisted specific vehicles operating under the two companies and their TSL invalidated.
“We have shut down their (Little and SWVL) licenses because there are comprehensive regulations on how to operate a PSV,” said the then outgoing NTSA director general Francis Meja.
SWVL and Little Shuttle’s app-based services allow users to book trips using their mobile devices.
The apps notify users of the nearest pick-up point, price and scheduled departure times.
The driver’s contact and registration number of the vehicle as well as live map update appear on the app interface for easy identification once the buses arrive.
Both services have been popular with Nairobi’s working class looking for comfort and who were keen to avoid the chaos associated with matatus.