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MALTATODAY 15 August 2021

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 15 AUGUST 2021 10 NEWS Bolt increases taxi fares in COVID response KARL AZZOPARDI RIDE-HAILING and food delivery opera- tor Bolt has increased its taxi service fares to address new challenges brought about by COVID-19 restrictions. An increase in commissions from driv- ers came into effect on 3 August, rising from 16.5% to 20% on fares, aplying on- ly to the company's cab business and not Bolt Food providers or couriers. Bolt drivers earn money based on the distance they drive, as well as the car they use – ranging from 'economy' to 'green' and then to other expensive options. "The decision to increase the commis- sion is because of the economic challeng- es caused by the COVID-19 restrictions," a Bolt spokesperson said. "The welfare of our drivers and riders is our utmost pri- ority." To ensure drivers' earnings do not de- crease, the company said the fare rates for its services have increased slightly, "to help drivers equalize their earnings." "Irrespective of the changes, we are still more affordable and will continue to strive towards creating an ecosystem where more customers will lead to more orders which will ultimately draw more drivers to the platform leading to faster arrival times and better service for our customers," Bolt said. But the commission increase did not go down well with all drivers. In one group chat seen by MaltaToday, a 'shift leader' snaps back at the complaints of one of the drivers about the increase in commis- sions. "What you have to understand is, if you go to work for a competitor, you will help them grow their supply, which will help them to get more clients. If they get more clients, we need to start fighting for the customers and lower our prices," the shift leader said. "Then they have to start fighting back for the customers and lower their prices as well, until the prices are so low that nobody working as a driver will make any decent money." A shareholder in the company operating Bolt's mobile app technology is suing the same company, TXF Tech, for €1.6 mil- lion over the non-payment of two consti- tutions of debt. The shareholder, Debono Group Hold- ings, are owners of the Toyota dealer- ship in Malta amongst other concerns. Debono Group has accused Bolt of being "legally insolvent" despite its operations appearing to be going swimmingly, on Maltese streets, and suggested that the profits generated by the operation are not being channelled towards the payment of its debts. TXF Tech is Bolt's operating partner in Malta, Cyprus and Tunisia, and a share- holder in BLT Malta and BLT Food Mal- ta, where it runs the food delivery, taxi hailing, and scooter-renting platforms. The company outsources courier and driver services to self-employed workers and recruitment agencies. The Debono Group is a 20% sharehold- er in TXF Tech.

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