Ride-hailing company Bolt has on Tuesday issued a statement regarding the kidnapping of two young girls who used its service last week.
The statement, which was sent to the media on Tuesday, said that Bolt was aware of the incident and deeply appreciated the local authorities’ efforts to ensure that the girls were found and safely reunited with their families.
The girls, Erica and Shanice, were found in an empty bedsitter in Gatokoyo after being held captive for a week by two men who posed as Bolt drivers.
Bolt said that it proactively collaborated with the authorities to provide pertinent information regarding the case that supported the conclusion of the investigation.
“We strongly discourage the use of vehicles that do not match the details on the platform, as this was one of the issues that led to this unfortunate incident. To address this, we show riders the driver and car verification details when they request a ride. Riders are encouraged to confirm that the driver and car registration details during their pickup match those on the app. We immediately block drivers that exhibit such behavior. We also introduced the driver selfie check feature on the platform to enhance safety and prevent driver impersonation and account sharing,” the statement read.
The statement also highlighted some of the safety features that Bolt has on its driver and rider apps, such as an SOS emergency button that can be used to alert and seek for security and/or first-response medical assistance at any time during an active trip.
“The safety of our drivers and riders remains our highest priority. This is why we strongly encourage all riders and drivers to report any incidents to our Customer Support team through our in-app support feature, accessible from the Bolt application menu or via email@example.com,” the statement concluded.
The kidnapping incident was first made public by Erica’s mother, Ciku Muiruri, a former radio presenter, who shared her ordeal on her Facebook page on Monday. She said that her daughter and her friend were kidnapped in the early hours of Sunday morning after hailing a Bolt taxi. They were locked in the car with child lock activated and there was a second man hiding in the boot. They were threatened with a knife and a hammer and taken to a dingy place where they were held until their ransom was paid.
Muiruri said that she refused to pay any money to the kidnappers and instead relied on prayers from her friends and family. She said that the prayers worked as the kidnappers seemed confused, unwell and frustrated. She also said that the girls were fed daily and not harmed physically.
She thanked everyone who prayed for her daughter and her friend and warned people to stay away from Bolt especially after midnight. She said that the kidnappers told the girls that there were many crooks from different gangs doing the same thing on the Bolt app.
Bolt has not commented on Muiruri’s allegations or whether it will take any action against the kidnappers or compensate the victims.