A few days ago, Bolt quietly launched a “Women Only” category for its Kenyan arm, where users can choose to be driven by women drivers in a move that is supposed to make female riders who use the service feel safer.
Considering the dangers that women often have to push through to travel by themselves in countries like Kenya and South Africa, this move seems to make perfect sense.
However, the women-only option for Bolt appears to be at least Ksh100 (about $1) more expensive than the regular Bolt option, or even higher depending on where a user wishes to go.
Bolt has yet to explain why the service is more expensive, but it could be because there are fewer female drivers than male drivers, and the increased price is to incentivise these drivers to take Women Only fairs more frequently.
The option, which debuted to a negative reaction, has been met with even more frustration over the more expensive nature of the option. Many have taken to Twitter to air their greivances. There are a few that do welcome the new option though.
Some users have said that the higher prices for the same distance is a way to exploit or “punish” women, and that Bolt’s solution to its customer endangerment problem is no solution at all.
Others have even said that Bolt Kenya’s inclusion of the option is an admission that the service has a problem.
Bolt kuongeza an overpriced women only option kwa app is a sign of accepting that there's a safety problem with their male drivers?
— THE WATCHER (@jamlick__) September 7, 2021
While Bolt seem to have heard and acted (creatively) on the numerous safety complaints by women, why is the "Women only" service pricier though…for the same distance?
— AKN (@Ms_KNjoroge) September 7, 2021
I know i say this every year but: ladies delete that BOLT app today. Delete it now. Your safety will ALWAYS be compromised when you involve yourself with them.
Delete today today today!
— Kaluhi's_Kitchen (@KaluhisKitchen) September 7, 2021
Why has Bolt made the Only women option expensive? Is it because Women's Safety is a privilege nowadays? Plus how sure am i i will be safe?Is safety all about gender or an individual? Just asking….
— Miss Babes.. (@charlenebouza) September 9, 2021
Bolt women charges are higher to punish women juu ya kukula fare
— O'brien Giles (@BrienGiles) September 9, 2021
Well, Bolt could sack the perpetrators, anytime one reports they should deal with their employees. I feel it's a way of exploiting women. Anyway, whatever makes people feel safe, as for me I'm an economist. ell
— Merceline Odhiambo (@mercelineodhiss) September 9, 2021
The new category launched only a few days after a Kenyan woman went to social media to report that a Bolt driver had allegedly harmed her physically. Bolt Kenya responded to the allegations, instead claiming that it was the driver that was attacked by the woman and her friends.
Bolt also claims that it has reached out to the rider in question, who has been uncooperative in opening a case against the driver at the police.
More than anything, it looks like Bolt Kenya has a perception problem, with a majority of Twitter users believing that the ride-hailing service is dangerous, especially for women.
Last year, a Kenyan woman was allegedly nearly kidnapped and threatened with sexual violence by a Bolt driver. Tech Cabal also reported in 2020 that Bolt Nigeria had been seeing an increase in harassment claims by riders against drivers.