Popular motorbike taxi-hailing App SafeBoda has quit the Kenyan market, after two years of operations. In a statement on Monday, the Ugandan funded app cited an economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“SafeBoda has made a very difficult decision to pause rides and send services from November 27, 2020. While Nairobi is seeing some economic recovery from COVID-19, bod transportation has been hit hard.
“This has meant our business cannot sustainably operate in this environment and unfortunately, the timeline for a full recovery cannot be certain,” the startup explained in the statement.
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The company’s exit is expected to affect its 4,000 riders in Nairobi, users and the value chain it has created. Customers have been asked to exhaust their e-wallet by requesting for riders or send packages before November 27. It will however offer refunds to customers with balances beyond the exit day.
Although the firm is leaving the Kenyan market, SafeBoda says it will intensify its operations in Uganda and Nigeria.
On social media, Kenyans have reacted to the news of the exit of SafeBoda. “Sad! It was really great working with you guys in Mombasa earlier this year, talented team and a revolutionary idea thank you Mr Alistair Sussock. Thanks to you guys, I normalized putting on a helmet,” a Twitter user said.
“Hello. Sad to see you guys leaving. You contributed a lot to how bodas operate. What happens to the balance in the wallet?” another user tweeted.
A user also tweeted: “Sad to see you ‘pause’. You started off very well. Well trained, motivated and well-branded riders who took pride in safe riding. Anyway, I need to use up my wallet but I’ve noticed It’s harder and harder to hail a @SafeBoda_Kenya of late. Hope you come back. #NduthiGang.”
“Thanks for everything, Fam It would be great if you released some branded momentos for us to buy for the culture Much love, always,” one Twitter user said.
Motorbikes have emerged as one of the major means of transportation in Africa due to decades of poor investment in road and transport infrastructure. Despite being risky, it is highly patronized on the continent as it helps users beat traffic and commute to hard to reach areas.
Citing “chaos and disorderliness” and “scary figures” of fatal accidents, Nigeria’s largest commercial city, Lagos, banned commercial motorbikes, popularly called Okada, in the city. In Ghana, Okada has been outlawed but officials have not implemented the ban due to the livelihood it provides many riders.
According to a report by TechSci, the motorbike market in Africa is projected to cross US$ 9 billion by 2021. South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania are the largest two-wheeler markets in Africa, followed by Kenya, Algeria, Uganda, Egypt, Morocco, Angola and Ethiopia.