SafeBoda, the notable ride-hailing company, in a unexpected turn of events, has announced its much-anticipated relaunch in Nairobi, Kenya. This move marks a new chapter for the company, which had previously ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing an unsustainable business environment and an uncertain recovery timeline.
SafeBoda had been a game-changer in Kenya’s bodaboda (motorcycle taxi) industry, bringing unprecedented professionalism and safety standards to a sector known for its chaotic nature. The company’s exit was a blow to Nairobi, where it had built a community of over 4,000 SafeBoda drivers committed to road safety, helmet usage, and exceptional customer service. “Our community is at the core of what we do at SafeBoda,” the company had stated, acknowledging the impact of its decision on its extensive network of drivers.
The company’s unique approach had been widely praised. We used, loved and highlighted SafeBoda’s effective methods in taming what seemed like an uncontrollable sector. Their innovative features included a cash top-up wallet for rides, distinct orange helmets for drivers and clients, and bright neon orange vests with identification numbers for easy rider recognition and accountability.
SafeBoda’s model was so successful that it inspired similar strategies from competitors like Uber and Little Taxi. They even ventured into parcels. However, the bodaboda space experienced a noticeable decline in online ride-hailing following SafeBoda’s departure, demonstrating the company’s significant influence on the industry.
With its relaunch, numerous questions arise. Is this resurgence fueled by new funding, a change in ownership, or renewed regulatory approval from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA)? The fate of the previous bodaboda operators who retained their SafeBoda gear also remains unclear. Moreover, there’s a growing curiosity about whether the Nairobi county government will support SafeBoda’s mission to restore order and professionalism in the bodaboda sector.