The motorcycle hailing app SafeBoda has exited the Kenyan market rendering hundreds jobless – including call center operators. This even as, the thousands of motorcycle riders registered on the platform will have to seek work elsewhere.
As CGTN’s Enock Sikolia reports from Nairobi, across the capital, one cannot fail to spot a motorcycle taxi donning an orange reflector jacket and matching helmet.
But a few months from now, these flashes of orange with a SafeBoda logo may be a thing of the past and a rare sight.
Walter Obinya, a Motorcycle Taxi Rider joined the app when it expanded to Kenya in 2018.
He recalls a bonus structure in place in the early days.
“Whenever you rendered services to three people in a day, you would earn a bonus of 3 US dollars. 5 people, you get 5 dollars and if you ferried 10 people, you get 10 dollars.”
Obinya says anyone joining the app was taken through a thorough safety and customer care training.
Riders were kitted out with reflector jackets and helmets – for themselves and their customers.
He adds that focus on safety endeared them to customers.
“Many people would come to the stage looking for anyone with SafeBoda helmet. He or she would then make a request specifically targeted at you.”
SafeBoda on its part submitted that the decision to exit Kenya was due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
But riders from Kenya dispute that reason. Many say the app was struggling even before the pandemic struck,
facing off with competitors like Uber and Bolt.
“They started reducing rates for fares and so riders started leaving the app and they never listened to our plights despite our complaints and protests. The money we were getting became little as the app sought to make clients happy at our expense,” says Walter Obinya, Motorcycle Taxi Rider.
In recent years Boda Bodas has become a popular mode of transport in Kenya. At the same time, it has provided employment opportunities for young Kenyans, and the hole left behind by SafeBoda in the industry will hopefully be filled swiftly.