Little, Swvl Shuttles dragged to unexpected closure


Little, one of Kenya’s leading shuttle and taxi hailing services has shared its misgivings over perceives as an underhand authority directive that has prompted the sudden stoppage of its operations across the country.

In a statement, Kamal Budhabatti – CEO Little, notified the public of the unexpected stoppage with effect 1st October, 2019.

“I would like to share some sad news with all of you. Few days before we got a communication from the authorities that we are not allowed to hail a shuttle on Little. The shuttles we hail are from our partners who are properly licensed, but we were told that it is not the right kind of license,” read part of the statement.

Kamal, who did not mention the authorities in question expressed frustration, noting that Little acquired the proper licensing procedures for its shuttle operations and had since partnered with several shuttle owners in the country in quest of bringing sanity in the public transport industry that has over the years been riddled immense challenges.

“We have been running this services for last three quarters,” Budhabhatti stated affirming that the service had so far proven worthwhile, efficient and convenient to commuters yearning for comfort in a sector that demands sanity considering the hustle and bustle in the chaotic public transport business, particularly in Nairobi and its environs.

The taxi hailing app accommodates both individual and bike delivery services as well as public rides as was launched shuttle in June 2016.

The shuttles allow for public transportation, akin to the PSV. However, Little Shuttle’s value addition is leveraged by technology to ease the hustle that public transportation is known for. The shuttle offers include wireless internet connection and enabled power charging devices among others.

“We run point to point shuttle services on our Little App. We have thousands of Shuttle riders who ride on our platform every single day, many of them several times a day. I have met many of them personally. Most of them have been very happy with the service. Its efficient, it can be tracked, It’s on time, it’s clean and safe and off all, it’s not chaotic.  Our shuttles service is so popular that most of the times they are fully booked,” affirmed Budhabatti.

While appreciating the convenience that Little shuttles have so far rendered commuters plying in different routes, Budhabhatti asserted that the only way forward is to have a structured engagement with relevant authorities on how to revolutionize the transport industry using technology.

“I would appreciate that they open a dialogue with technology companies like us on how to work together and change the face of public transportation in our country,” he stated.

He recalled how Safaricom started Mpesa unregulated and would later be regulated by the Central Bank having proven a worthy course and wishes that Little Shuttles would also be regulated in a similar manner and not just shut down abruptly.

Expressing his love for Kenya, Budhabatti underscored the countries uniqueness stating: “We are innovative and entrepreneurial and like trying out new things. Challenges like these are not going to shake our dreams, at Little. We want to be pan African mobility provider, and it would happen with time,” he concluded.

Also affected by the abrupt closure is Swvl shuttles and a few PSV SACCOs that have been cited by NTSA for lacking the proper provisions for PSV regulations.

“The Authority in undertaking its mandate noted that Little Shuttle and SWVL operate vehicles contrary to the provisions of the PSV Regulations,” read a statement from NTSA.

According to NTSA, vehicles under hailing app companies have acquired Tours Service License (TSL) but are engaging in commuter service within Nairobi therefore contravening the terms of the Tour Service License (TSL).

“The Companies the vehicles are operating under are not registered with the National Transport and Safety as required by Section 26 of the Transport and Safety Act No. 33 of 2012,” continued the NTSA statement.

The authority also noted that the two companies have never contacted NTSA to show any intention to operate as commuter service providers therefore the blacklist due to invalidated TSL.

The Director General, NTSA, however promised to work in support of the two hailing app companies if they seek to comply with the PSV Regulations.




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