Swvl owners risk arrest over 'illegal operation'

Egyptian app based swvl has been on the spot for illegally operating without the required licenses from NTSA

In Summary

•NTSA's licensing manager Jackson Mutua said that authority has written to the Inspector General and the DPP to prosecute the managing director and cease its operations in the city.

One of the shuttles used by SWVL
'UNFAIR' COMPETITION: One of the shuttles used by SWVL

Owners of shuttle hailing service provider Swvl risk arrest after the National Transport and Safety Authority called for their prosecution.

This comes after the authority on Tuesday revealed the firm has been operating illegally in the capital.

The app-based public service transport operator has not been licensed by NTSA and the county government of Nairobi.

The above was revealed in a recent sitting of the County Assembly Transport Committee.

NTSA's licensing manager Jackson Mutua said that authority has written to the Inspector General and the DPP to prosecute the managing director and cease its operations in the city.

“Traditionally an operator is licensed to operate at a particular route but Swvl wants to operate anywhere . That’s an issue we are looking into and what further action to be taken,” he said.

On Friday last week , NTSA impounded vehicles belonging to the Egypt-based firm operating without a Public Service Vehicle license.

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

The county government also confirmed that they do not recognise Swvl’s operation in the city.

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

However, he said that the company wanted to operate and play by its own rules.

“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,” Karanja said.

The chief officer however said the county had no issue with the technology bit of Swvl, but only the 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,” Karanja explained.

According to some members of the assembly's transport committee, NTSA and City Hall should license Swvl and tax them higher than usual.

"Once the county taxes Swvl, then there is no harm in allowing them to operate because once taxed and licensed, they will use the designated routes. If they want to use more than one route then I suggest that the county to charge them higher," said Mary Arivtsa, a nominated MCA.

However, the committee's chairpesron Joyce Muthoni urged both NTSA and City Hall to ensure that all PSVs in Nairobi are properly licensed.

Last year in October, NTSA suspended Swvl vehicles and Little Shuttle following a licensing row.

NTSA’s deputy director of communications Dido Guyau in a notice stated that vehicles operating under the two companies had been blacklisted and had their Transport Service License (TSL).

“We have shut down their licences because there are comprehensive regulations on how to operate a PSV,” read the notice.

In November, they resumed operations in selected places such as Utawala, Mlolongo and Eastlands routes.

It was still struggling with compliance after the company was forced to pull out its vehicles from some routes in Nairobi.

In January this year, Swvl launched long- distance trips, adding to multiple routes from the CBD including Ngong, Ruai and Kiserian.