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SafeBoda: Ugandan Ride Firm Makes Kenya Return

Uganda-based motorcycle ride-hailing and delivery company SafeBoda is set to resume operations in Kenya next month, three years after it shut down its operations in the country.

“Tumerudi! (We are back),” said the firm on its official Kenyan handle on X (formerly Twitter).

“SafeBoda is coming to Nairobi,” the company said on its website on Monday, with a countdown timer that showed it would relaunch in Kenya in 13 days.

SafeBoda closed its operations in Kenya in November 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to focus on its successful operations in Uganda.

The company had taken a major hit after the pandemic put transportation to a near halt due to movement restrictions, including the months-long dust-to-dawn curfew.

“While Nairobi is seeing some economic recovery from Covid-19, boda transportation has been hit hard. This has meant our business cannot sustainably operate in this environment and unfortunately, the timeline for a full recovery is not certain,” the firm announced at the time.

By the time of its closure, the company had a network of more than 4,000 boda boda riders.

It is estimated that there are more than 1.8 million boda boda riders in Kenya, making it a major source of livelihood.

SafeBoda first launched in Nairobi in 2018 and immediately embarked on wooing customers by offering cheap rates for rides across the city.

Before it launched in Nairobi, the firm had operated in Kampala for four years.

Yet, the market SafeBoda is coming back into is quite different from the one it exited just over three years ago.

Competition has gone a notch higher in the ride-hailing business, and as such, the Ugandan entity will have its work cut out to wrestle market share from leading players such as Bolt.

It is also coming back at a time when the government has accelerated taxation to increase revenue collection, straining firms.

Some of the increased burdens firms are having to shoulder include the enhanced National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contributions, 1.5 percent housing levy and reinstatement of turnover tax to 3 percent.

On the other hand, the number of boda boda riders has grown significantly during the period as the service increasingly becomes a go-to source of self-employment for millions of youth.

-Business Daily

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