- Following drivers’ decisions to shut down operations over safety measures in July 2023, Bolt South Africa has introduced a stringent verification process before requesting a ride on the platform.
- Before submitting a ride request, new riders will now need to take a clear selfie to verify their identity in addition to the safety precautions already in place. They will also need to upload a copy of their identification document, which will be used to validate the selfie image.
- Riders are only required to take a selfie during the initial order validation process, which is estimated to take a few minutes. Users must have the most recent version of the app to use this feature, which is currently undergoing testing in South Africa.
Per Takura Malaba, Bolt’s Regional Manager of East and Southern Africa, this development is part of “ ongoing investment in new products, features, and a dedicated in-house specially trained safety team,” which will ensure the improvement of the safe ecosystem of the Bolt app.
Bolt drivers, Uber, and Indrive ceased operations on July 17, 2023, citing low pay and safety concerns. Due to the industrial action, many drivers turned off their engines, leaving many people stranded.
In an account, robbery attempts have led the drivers to create self-defence groups in South Africa. Despite the app's inclusion of the SOS Emergency button, which requires alerts to be handled urgently, drivers must still rely on self-protection measures to stay alive.
South Africa is not the only country with safety concerns
Following the death of three drivers allegedly shot dead by gunmen in Port Harcourt two months ago, ride-hailing drivers in Nigeria advocated for the use of National Identification Numbers to verify passengers.
These drivers have also been victims of reported cases of car snatching.
Similarly, a media personality in Kenya, Ciku Muiruri, reported that her daughter and a friend were kidnapped after booking a Bolt ride. The kidnappers were said to have demanded KSh 500,000 ($3,580) for both girls.
Before now, the safety features on the e-hailing app included an in-app emergency and assist button, dedicated customer support, strict rider management, driving time limits, location sharing, and women-only rides