Swvl, Little shuttle blacklisted for illegal PSV business

In Summary

• Director General Francis Meja in a press statement said the two hailing app companies have been operating engaging in commuter service business within Nairobi contrary to its license.

• He said NTSA will support the two hailing app companies when they seek to comply with the PSV Regulations

One of the shuttles used by SWVL
One of the shuttles used by SWVL
Image: COURTESY

The National Safety and Transport Authority has blacklisted Swvl and Little shuttle for violating operation rules.

Director General Francis Meja in a press statement on Monday said the two hailing app companies have been engaging in commuter service business within Nairobi contrary to its licence.

Meja said as a result, the “authority has blacklisted the specific vehicles operating under the two companies and their TSL invalidated”.

He said, “NTSA will support the two hailing app companies when they seek to comply with the PSV Regulations”.

Meja said the move to blacklist the two companies is in line with the authority undertaking its mandate.

“The authority has noted that Little Shuttle and Swvl operate vehicles contrary to the provisions of the PSV regulations. The vehicles under these hailing app companies have acquired a Tours Service Licence (TSL) but are engaging in commuter service within Nairobi therefore contravening the terms of the Tour Service License (TSL),” he said.

Meja said the vehicles the companies operate are not registered with the National Transport and Safety as required by Section 26 of the Transport and Safety Act No. 33 of 2012.

“The two companies have never contacted the authority to show any intention to operate as  commuter service providers," Meja said.

Early in the year, the Star reported a storm was brewing in the matatu sector as three technology companies planned to introduce mass transport apps.

Little Cabs, Safiri Express and Egypt-based Swvl had vowed to disrupt the matatu sector.

The three tech firms were testing ways to get customers to destinations with fewer stops, at affordable prices, while maintaining high quality and safety standards.

But Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua said they would frustrate the plan.

He said the move was ill-advised and would result in unfair competition in the industry.

Mbugua said NTSA should be reprimanded for allowing the companies to venture into the business “through the back door”.

“We have forwarded this matter to the relevant authorities, including the infrastructure ministry. We have a multi-agency stakeholders meeting and this will be the top agenda,” he said.

“We cannot be going into BRT induction and implementation at the same time embrace other modes of transport. This is retrogressive and we ask the government through the ministry to act.”

Asked if it had issued licences to the technology companies, NTSA then dismissed the claims.

Meja in a phone interview told the Star they had not received any request from the tech companies notifying them of their intention to venture into the matatu business.

“In fact, as we speak, the said companies are engaged in illegal business, and we have authorised police to arrest them. They cannot purport to carry passengers, whether on a pilot or whatever reason, without seeking authorisation from NTSA,” Meja said.

He said they don’t object to tech companies venturing into the business, but they must use the proper channels.

“The sector is governed by rules and regulations, and if they cannot adhere to them, how are we certain that if we issue them licences, they will abide by them?” the DG said.