Bolt Lite drivers blocked a busy road in Randburg on Tuesday in protest after a video of a Bajaj Qute “vehicle” being smashed went viral on social media.
In a short video which has gone viral across social media sites TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook, three alleged minibus taxi patrollers are seen smashing the bright yellow “vehicle” with a rock.
The men smash its windows, pop its tyres and are also seen appearing to try and push it down a slope.
The men appear to be from the taxi industry as they travel in a marked car associated with the minibus taxi industry with the words “taxi patrol” written on the bumper.
The branded brown Toyota Corolla is clearly visible and the attackers appear to make no attempt to conceal their identities either.
The new Bolt Lite category is the cheapest available on the e-hailing platform, and it has become the latest target between the minibus taxi industry and e-hailing operators.
The new Bolt Lite category “vehicles”, which are technically registered as quadricycles, are easily identifiable with their bright colour, making them an easy target.
In a press statement sent mid-August, Bolt announced that its fleet partner, My Next Car and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development had entered into a strategic partnership to launch the new Bolt Lite ride category which would be serviced exclusively by the India-sourced Bajaj Qute which was small and fuel-efficient.
The category is intended for short trips only and in the past weeks, the “vehicles” have been flooding the streets of Randburg, Braamfontein and Johannesburg in the past few weeks.
They are the cheapest ride available on the e-hailing platform and only one passenger is allowed per ride. The Bajaj Qute reportedly has a top speed of 70km/h.
Bolt said it was committed to working with all stakeholders in the transport industry to find a way for all parties to work alongside each other. “We believe that all South Africans should have access to effective and safe transport”.
On Facebook, drivers have raised safety concerns.
“South Africa is a country that has people that don’t have respect for other people, why destroying someone’s property like that,” said one driver.
“It's really sad how our fellow brothers are destroying other people's livelihood. This one really hurt me. We don't like Bajaj but this was just pure evil,” said another driver.
“I’m not saying they are right but Bajaj is a time bomb and life is very important to us. All bajaj drivers need to return them back so that this company can bring better cars,” said another.
In past weeks, e-hailing association spokesperson Vhatuka Mbelengwa told News24 that introducing the new cheaper category was a threat to other e-hailing operators and could cause threats violence to the drivers due to the disruption they would cause.
As of mid-August 2023, Bolt said it now had over 40,000 active drivers in 23 cities across South Africa who were earning a living on the platform.
Bolt has also launched Bolt Food earlier this year, a food delivery service on the platform.