Bolt drops 6000 errant drivers to up safety

Benedict Chitungo, who was charged with two counts of attempted murder, was also blocked. Picture: Video

Benedict Chitungo, who was charged with two counts of attempted murder, was also blocked. Picture: Video

Published Jun 6, 2024


Cape Town - The Bolt driver arrested for stabbing female passengers in Table View is only one of more than 6 000 drivers shown the door by the e-hailing company.

Bolt said it took the decision to dismiss and permanently block the drivers to ensure passengers’ safety.

It wouldn’t divulge the types of misconduct, but confirmed that Benedict Chitungo, who was charged with two counts of attempted murder, was also blocked.

“This is part of the organisation’s strong focus on rider and driver safety.

“Bolt has permanently blocked over 6000 drivers from its platform in the past six months due to non-compliance and safety-related matters,” it said.

Bolt Acting Head of Regulatory and Policy Africa, Weyinmi Aghadiuno said: “While we cannot provide specific details on individual cases, we want to assure you that any action taken is in line with our commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful environment for all users of our platform.

“The blocking of these 6000 drivers includes the driver accused of the Table View incident.”

Chitungo was arrested after he allegedly stabbed two female passengers last month.

He appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and faces two counts of attempted murder.

Western Cape E-hailing Association chairperson Siyabonga Hlabisa said Bolt had introduced safety measures, which they have been asked to implement.

Association spokesperson Keith Francis said they called for fair appeal procedures and disciplinary processes.

He said a range of issues existed on the platform.

“No, we are not supporting drivers being blocked without prior investigation, as each case has its own merit. We also note that all the app companies continue with a practice to deactivate/ block drivers without affording them the right to a fair hearing.

“We therefore call for proper and fair disciplinary processes, including fair appeal procedures. The rules of natural justice should apply. He said at the same time, they condemned negative conduct from the drivers and riders.

“The job losses are a major blow to struggling families who depend on this income. We are saddened; so many drivers have lost their income under these challenging economic circumstances,” said Francis.

Cosatu provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn expressed concern at the number of job losses, saying every loss was a penny for a family.

“At this stage I don’t have all the information. Did Bolt cover all the procedures within the confines of the labour law? What is the reason for the blocking. This is something that we will have to look into and if we have to intervene we will,” he said.

Bolt has 150 million customers in more than 45 countries and 500 cities across Europe and Africa.

Aghadiuno said stricter compliance measures were also introduced.

Bolt is also testing rider verification, requiring new customers to take a selfie and upload an ID, which Bolt verifies before allowing ride orders.

“In addition to the driver screening process, where drivers undergo a background check before being able to drive on the Bolt app, the company has also intensified its efforts to enforce platform guidelines. Any driver or rider found violating safety standards or non-compliant will face swift and decisive consequences, including permanent suspension from the platform.

“We also introduced Trip Monitoring, which works by proactively engaging with riders and drivers in-app when a vehicle remains stationary for an extended period. To use this feature, no action is required; Bolt will activate a prompt for you to check if everything is okay, and you will be required to click on the ‘Yes, I am okay button’ should there be no concern.”

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