A U-turn?

Uber & Bolt’s Tanzanian Troubles Are Finally Coming To A Needful Halt

By  |  September 13, 2022

It has been almost 5 months since the operations of Uber and Bolts have been held up in a gridlock of Tanzanian regulatory uncertainties. The ride-hailing giants’ few years of serving commuters in the East African market came to a slowdown between April and May, thanks to a cavalcade of government-dished rules which seemed to hamper their groove. 

In March, the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) of Tanzania ordered Uber and Bolt to cut down their service charges from 25 percent to 15 percent, in an effort to make ride-hailing more affordable and less hassling for customers. In addition to other directives, LATRA asked the platforms to slash fees charged for dead kilometers, amid a hike in fuel prices. 

These unprecedented regulatory developments, as earlier stated, proved tough and unsustainable for the ride-hailing giants to cope with. Uber, after failing to get authorities to review the sudden changes, killed its service in Tanzania. 

This cessation was quickly followed by a switch to corporate-only tricycle and motorcycle service on the part of Bolt. Since then, uncertainties have clouded Tanzanian ride-hailing, almost putting the market and its players in a needless state of limbo. 

Now, nevertheless, things appear to be positively reshaping. Yesterday, LATRA announced that Uber and Bolt would be resuming their usual services, having met and dialogued with the companies to solve the challenges that have since hampered their operations. 

According to the LATRA’s Director-General, Habibu Suluo, discussions with Uber and Bolt’s African representatives have been fruitful so far. While details have not yet been provided regarding how much fees would be charged going forward, it seems all the parties involved have already reached a consensus that allows business to go on as usual. 

“There is a report we are waiting on that the companies should bring in to enable us to make decisions, and today is the deadline we agreed upon. We will make decisions that will help all of them, including the Tanzania Online Drivers Association (TODA),” Suluo said in a media address on September 12th, 2022. 

Given the size and stretch of both Uber and Bolt, over 5,000 taxi drivers working with them in Tanzania are [obviously] the most affected by the situation, as they would see their incomes degenerate, especially those without other means of livelihood. 

Elsewhere in Africa, a similar push-and-pull between ride-hailing services, partner drivers and regulators abound. 

In South Africa, fed-up Uber and Bolt drivers embarked on a two-day Cape Town strike action due to low earnings and checkered permit processes. In Nigeria, a Rest of World investigation discovered Bolt drivers unlawfully selling verified accounts to third parties despite the insecurity problems shaking the country’s core. 

Because the continent [at large] is a huge untapped market for ride-hailing services to milk, much needs to be done to course-correct operations, ensure the safety of drivers and riders alike, and remain in the good crates of the industry’s watch dogs. 

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