Kenyans have called out the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) for suspending Little Shuttle and SWVL vehicles following a licensing row.
The digital public transporters were on Monday asked to cease operations or face arrests for operating under Tour Service License but engaging in commuter services.
SWVL and Little Shuttle were poised to disrupt the public service sector by providing booking options, extra comfort and scheduled departure times in the chaotic segment.
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,” NTSA director general Francis Meja said.
NTSA indicated that both firms had been notified of the suspension of operations until the necessary licenses for operating PSV’s were obtained or an exemption from the authority.
“Let them just follow the law so that we can facilitate them to do business in Kenya. Let them come to us… we are open for discussion to allow them do business in Kenya. It’s a fact that you cannot do business in Kenya without a proper license,” said Mr Meja.
But in his response, Little Shuttle CEO Kamal Budhabhatti said the company is seeking audience with NTSA on a way forward.
“The buses we operate have countrywide TLB license, 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,” he said.
A spot check by Nairobi News on Tuesday morning in Nairobi established that SWVL was still ferrying passengers despite the suspension.
The company’s General Manager in Kenya, Shivachi Muleji, said they are in talks with the government to ensure that they are fully compliant.
Egyptian start-up app SWVL currently has 150 buses on 100 city routes and last month indicated that it would inject Sh1.5 billion into the Kenyan market.
Meanwhile, it is still unclear when Little Shuttle will return to the road.
The app-based service allows users to book trips using their mobile devices, which notifies them of the nearest pick-up point, price and time by the bus.
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.
Here is what Kenyans thought of the suspension:
NTSA suspending the App buses SWVL is like the local cabs fighting against Uber. SWVL is the next best thing in the public transport sector. NTSA has failed to have sanity in matatus & now they won’t let us tired Kenyans enjoy SWVL because?
— Maggy Matolo (@maggymatolo) October 1, 2019
It’s only in Kenya… swvl & littlecab shuttle suspended… still trying to understand though! Back to spending more time and money to get to work… smh! Ntsa should reconsider their decision… pic.twitter.com/fZ1BcmuDHw
— W.A.S.H.Y. (@Washkoe) October 1, 2019
I read about NTSA’s argument and it looked quite reasonable. Though these are technology companies but looks like there are layers and they are no enough laws.
— Paul Mwago (@P_Mwago) October 1, 2019
This @SwvlKenya & Little Shuttle is an example on how government and horrible policies that are erratic can mess up with your startup growth plan. In other countries, governments actually support innovation. Ours is heavily taxing and suffocating growth
— Kitawa Wemo (@kikiwemo) October 1, 2019
The same NTSA that is suspending local hailing shuttles for non compliance is too blind to see these compliant PSVs. @Ma3Route pic.twitter.com/qxJBOuqngz
— Muhoss (@Muhoss) September 30, 2019
Why did it take NTSA 7 months to realize SWVL and Little Shuttle were operating on the wrong licence???
— 𝚔𝚒𝚛𝚞𝚝𝚒 (@kiruti) September 30, 2019
If the national & county government is any serious with this,
Then Swvl & little shuttle are the closest attempt to an efficient PTS,
Pick & drop,
The @ntsa_kenya shenanigans are self defeating.
— Derrick (@derrickgakuu) September 30, 2019
its like @ntsa_kenya is there to prevent progress, make life harder for everyone and ensure public service transport remains chaotic, what happened to the superfial enforcement of Michuki rules early this year?
— Jose Muraya (@muraya_jose) September 30, 2019
NTSA inspects those Shuttles from Little and gives them licence to operate as PSV’s before they are active on Little. NTSA is there to serve cartels and those buses that are death traps.
— La Sape (@mokayah) September 30, 2019
Ofcourse the authorities in this country cannot stand to see proper systems and processes working. They will do everything in their power, at the expense of other people to ensure they forcefully get a piece of the cake.
Cc: @ntsa_kenya @SwvlKenya @LittleRideKE
— Karre Kaburu (@belle_karre_) September 30, 2019