The number of licensed online taxi operators in Kenya has increased from five to 14 in five months, signalling a full-throttle interest in the industry.
From only Little, Uber, Bolt, Yego and Farasi that were licensed by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in November 2022, the list now has nine more players.
They are An Nisa Taxi, Hava Net, H Cab, PTG, TMNK, Amicable Travel Service, Maramoja, Move On Telecoms and J-Ride.
In a Press notice to be published on Sunday, NTSA says the firms were licensed as per regulations gazetted in June 2022 that introduced a raft of changes in the industry.
They stipulated that each cab hailing company pays an annual fee of Sh100,000 for an operating licence and be registered by the Data Commissioner as a data collector or processor.
The online taxi firms are also required to enter transport network agreements with motor vehicle owners and licensed drivers stipulating the roles of each in the agreement.
The regulations also capped the commission paid to the companies by the drivers at 18 percent of the amount earned from each trip.
The firms will be required to oversee the vehicles and drivers under their respective fleets, ensuring that drivers’ licences are valid and that vehicles are insured and roadworthy.
At the same time, the companies are required to provide a panic button in their digital platforms which will be connected to a response centre.
“Each transport network company shall provide a panic button with appropriate response for the drivers and passengers in the digital platform which shall be connected to a response centre which will be manned at all times,” the Transport Network Companies, Owners, Drivers and Passengers Regulations, 2022 say in part.
Before commencing a trip, the companies are required to provide to the passenger information that includes the make and model of the vehicle, the vehicle’s registration number, the name and photo of the driver and the estimated fare prior to a customer accepting the ride.
The firms are also required to put in place a system to verify the identity of each passenger.
At the end of each trip, the companies are required to provide a printed or electronic receipt to the passenger detailing the rate of the trip, the date and time, where the passenger was picked and the where they were dropped, the name of the driver, particulars of the vehicle and the duration and distance of the trip.
Under the regulations, taxi drivers are not allowed to carry any other person without the consent of the passenger during a trip.
The drivers are also required to put in place a system that passengers can use to retrieve any items they may have been left behind after a trip.
The companies are also required to restrict drivers to eight-hour shifts using a system that automatically logs out the driver at the end of that duration.
“A transport network company shall configure its transport network platform to ensure that after eight hours of continuous service in a twenty-four-hour period, the driver shall log out of the platform for at least four consecutive hours,” the regulations read.
The rules also require hailing companies to expel from their systems and notify NTSA if a driver is facing a criminal investigation or arrest, is accused of sexual misconduct, is accused of causing a traffic accident that results in death, is convicted of drink-driving, or is facing allegations of physical assault or verbal abuse.
Drivers of the taxis are also not allowed to drive while intoxicated and smoke or chew miraa inside the vehicle.
The regulations also introduced an appeal mechanism to the Transport Licensing Appeals Board that has been in place since 2012. In the latest Press notice, the public has been advised to raise any issues using the mechanism.
“The jurisdiction of the Tribunal is to hear and determine appeals from the licensing decisions of NTSA,” the notice said, adding that the public can file a case by going to their offices or by using the Judiciary’s e-filing portal.