BY: Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb Senior New’s Journalist.

Bolt has partnered with the Automobile Association (AA) as its new emergency response service provider, amid mounting calls for the e-hailing app to improve its security.

According to Bolt, the AA’s emergency response services can now be accessed through the SOS button located within the Bolt app’s Safety Toolkit, at no cost.

This, after the ride-hailing firm parted ways with former service provider, national safety platform Namola, in a collaboration established in 2020.

The past few years have seen e-hailing drivers hold nationwide protests, urging government to intervene in the increasing incidences of crimes they are subjected to at the hands of criminals and rival metered taxi operators.

Since inception, the industry has been tainted by incidents of violent attacks, and in some instances, drivers being hijacked or killed.

Two weeks ago, a 28-year-old Bolt partner driver was gunned down and killed by hijackers he had picked up in Midrand.

Bolt says the new AA feature, which went live nationwide in March, enables drivers and passengers to connect quickly 24 hours a day to private armed response teams and private emergency medical rescue personnel, if they are involved in any medical or security emergency while on a Bolt ride.

The system shares smartphone GPS coordinates with the police or emergency services, which can be dispatched to the user’s location without a phone call.

Bolt is available in 23 cities across South Africa.

“Our commitment to safety is unwavering, as evidenced by our ongoing investment in platform development and safety measures,” says Takura Malaba, Bolt regional manager for east and southern Africa.

“We also work with like-minded partners to enhance safety on our platform. AA has established a strong reputation as a leading provider of roadside emergency services in South Africa, boasting an extensive network of emergency responders throughout the country.

“Through this partnership, and availing the integrated SOS button, we aim to prioritise the safety of our driver and passenger community.”

Bolt says it is continuously developing safety features and tools that have a real impact on addressing the safety concerns of drivers and passengers.

Most recently, it rolled out the driver selfie verification check feature, which aims to combat driver impersonations and the renting of profiles by third-parties who are not registered with Bolt.

AA offers customers access to over 50 benefits on one membership, as well as other travel and mobility services that extend beyond 24-hour roadside assistance. These include technical and legal advice, emergency rescue services and roadside security via its mobile app.

Willem Groenewald, CEO of AA South Africa, says: “Like Bolt, we seek to partner with companies and organisations that share a commitment to the personal safety of their workforce and the people they serve.

“We believe this collaboration will ensure not only enhanced driver safety, but will also provide more peace-of-mind to passengers who can easily access emergency services from their phones if and when they need them.”


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