Uganda’s ride-hailing and delivery startup, SafeBoda, is making a triumphant return to the vibrant streets of Nairobi, Kenya, after a three-year hiatus. With an enthusiastic “Tumerudi!” (We are back), the company joyfully announced its comeback on the official Kenyan handle on X (formerly Twitter).

Scheduled for a comeback in just 13 days, SafeBoda is gearing up to revitalize the Kenyan ride-hailing scene. The company had temporarily suspended its operations in Kenya back in November 2020, navigating the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and redirecting its focus to the thriving market in Uganda.

In the face of the pandemic-induced disruptions, SafeBoda found it challenging to sustain its operations in Nairobi. The boda transportation sector, a vital source of livelihood for many, experienced a downturn due to movement restrictions and an extended curfew period. Despite Nairobi’s ongoing economic recovery, the timeline for a full bounce-back remained uncertain at the time of SafeBoda’s temporary withdrawal.

During its initial venture into Nairobi in 2018, SafeBoda quickly captured the hearts of Kenyan commuters by offering affordable rates for rides across the city. Before setting foot in Nairobi, the company had already established a successful four-year presence in Kampala.

Returning to the Kenyan market presents new challenges for SafeBoda. The ride-hailing industry has become more competitive, with formidable players like Bolt setting high standards. Additionally, the government’s recent acceleration of taxation efforts to boost revenue has added strains to business operations.

Companies, including SafeBoda, are now grappling with increased financial responsibilities, such as higher National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contributions, a 1.5 percent housing levy, and the reinstatement of turnover tax to 3 percent. However, SafeBoda’s optimism and commitment to providing reliable services remain undeterred as it steps back into a market that has seen a significant surge in the number of boda boda riders, reflecting the growing trend of self-employment among the youth. SafeBoda is poised to embrace the challenges and bring a renewed zest to the dynamic world of Kenyan ride-hailing. Welcome back, SafeBoda!

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