‘Public transport cartels’? Little Shuttle shutdown raises questions
Published on: October 01, 2019 09:28 (EAT)
The Little shuttle service will no longer be operational from Tuesday, a directive that has raised criticism from several quarters. A press statement from the firm’s chief executive Kamal Budhabhatti said they were told that Little Shuttle did not have the right kind of license. “I am not sure if the decision to stop us was from the authorities or they were under pressure from the public transport cartels,” Budhabhatti said. The Little Cab boss however maintained that they were properly licensed and would not have been running the service for the last three quarters if they did not have proper documents. He insisted that he has no qualms with the government but questioned why there had been no consultation before their license was revoked. According to him, the Little shuttle service proved that technology could bring sanity to the chaotic public transport sector in Nairobi. “If this information was wrong then I do apologise,” he added. Budhabhatti compared the Little shuttle to MPesa noting that the Central Bank of Kenya did not stop Kenyans from using the mobile money transfer service when it was introduced. “They worked together to formulate a legal model. I would have appreciated a similar approach,” the CEO said. He said the Little shuttle will be out of service until the company gets clearance. According to NTSA Director General Francis Meja, Little Shuttle and SWVL were illegally operating shuttle services without the required PSV licenses. “The vehicles under these 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),” he said in a statement. The decision to stop Little shuttle operations elicited mixed reactions on social media. Also Read: Little Cab premiers first e-shuttle in Nairobi David Maina Kamiru said on Twitter: ”This would have been the opportunity to put the house in order especially on the public transport that is a mess.” “They’re canceling Little Shuttle. This government is really making it hard for businesses to thrive. Little were expanding well and shaping the transportation industry but the government is derailing their efforts,” one Mesheck added. “Little shuttle and SWVL help in commuting from one side of cbd to another without necessarily having to go through Nairobi CBD. This would be a good way of decongesting the CBD but our government has to play itself,” Tom Muthoka said. Derrick Ohato noted: “Little shuttle and other hailing shuttles have served to decongest our roads but sadly they have been stopped by regulator. Little shuttles will no longer operate from tomorrow as per CEOs email to their customers.” How Little Shuttle worked The Little shuttle allowed riders to book a seat and board at specific times starting 6:45am on weekdays, with a frequency of every two hours. Users were booking the shuttle through the normal little taxi-hailing app. Initial routes were Kahawa Sukari to Westlands, Bomas to the CBD via Upper Hill, and Kinoo to South B. The shuttle service modeled the Bus Rapid Transport System with rival company Uber even announcing plans to launch a similar service.