Exciting times as ride-hailing firms scramble for passengers - The Naija Weekly

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Exciting times as ride-hailing firms scramble for passengers

Ride-hailing firms are changing the way Lagos State’s ever-growing population moves around the city. From uber to Bolt and now inDriver, things are getting better in the transport sector. The plan to introduce Uber Bus will further disrupt things positively in the sector, writes DAMOLA KOLA-DARE

Segun Kesington goes from one point to the other in Lagos using the services of ride-hailing firm Bolt. Once in a while, he also patronises another hailing service frim, Uber. Kesington, who says Bolt offers cheaper fares, was shocked some days back to discover a new ride-hailing service, which allows him to bargain on how much he wants to pay.
Unlike Uber and Bolt, inDriver prides itself as the firm that allows passengers to pay the lowest fare. The new service, launched in Lagos a few days ago, says it is in town to end the era of passengers “paying too much!”
Competition is the rule of the game for ride-hailing firms. Not long ago, Uber introduced a promo service, which allows passengers access to N3,250 on five trips every week. The promo, which can be activated by putting a code on the Uber App, is worth N650 on each trip.
“Since I discovered the promo, I have been using it from my office to the house. My office is not far from my house. It is usually between N450 and N500. Since I am entitled to N650 on each of the five trips, I have stopped using my car because all I do at night when I close from work is to just call Uber and I am driven home without having to pay kobo.
“Last Friday, I took a Uber ride from my house in Ilupeju to GRA Ikeja and when the N650 was deducted I only paid N200. People need to be aware and take advantage of these services,” a regular customer told The Nation.
Bolt’s response to Uber is to offer 50 per cent rebate on five trips in a week to passengers. What this means, says a customer, is that for a trip of N2000, you pay only N1,000.
inDriver intends to outsmart the duo. It believes the ride-hailing industry in Nigeria lacks transparency and freedom of choice. Its mission is to fix this.
To book a ride on inDriver, a passenger has to first enter his location and destination and the amount he is willing to pay. When the ride is requested as it is with Uber and Bolt, drivers close to the location will confirm the order by either accepting the bid or presenting a counterbid.
The app shows us three different amounts, the rider’s bid and two other amounts with about N200 to N400 difference. The passenger has the option of accepting or rejecting the driver’s counter offer. Unlike Uber and Bolt, inDriver does not have an option to add debit card details so payments are made directly to drivers in cash or bank transfer.
Uber which was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco, U.S, has faced stiff competition from Bolt(formerly Taxify). Both have jostled for the control of the larger chunk of the market. While Bolt has expanded operations to Benin, Ibadan, Owerri, Uyo, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Abuja, Uber only operates in Lagos and Abuja. InDriver, new in the market, operates only in Lagos.
For those who crave the Uber experience, having a modern smartphone is a must. Through the Uber app, passengers can request for riding services after registering and providing personal details and credit card data.
Uber is a technology-compliant platform that makes it very easy to connect passengers and drivers in a jiffy through the use of Google Maps. And in some cases, providing a residential address will also help in locating the nearest Uber car. Then, for effective communication, the mobile number of the driver is also supplied as this will make the passenger and the driver relate well. That has proved to be the icing on the cake though other companies have been in the transport business for quite a while.
There are a variety of rides and each comes with a specific price. Each ride has a particular number of passengers it can take. Mainly, there are two types of Uber rides in Nigeria-the UberSelect and UberX. The latter is cheaper and can accommodate more than three passengers. Also, it is essential to get detailed information about the ride options available and the time it is going to take before it gets to the passenger’s location.
There is also the choice of payment mode. Passengers who prefer using their credit cards won’t need to pay any driver directly. Payment would have been sorted out on the Uber app. On the other hand, payment can also be made to the driver by cash. It offers such flexibility. Also when you get to your destination, the cost of the trip will be displayed on the driver’s app to enable transparency.
A businessman, who identified himself as Amos, said the Uber service has assisted him in visiting his customers with ease.
Bolt, formerly known as Taxify, was founded in August 2013 in Tallinn, Estonia. It has a heavy presence in 33 countries around the world. Just like Uber, its operations are anchored on a mobile application. The application allows people to request a taxi from their smartphones. It is said to offer quality, comfortable and hitch-free rides. Apart from being intolerant to alcohol and drug use, the company also ensures all their drivers undergo a criminal background assessment and personal training. It offers convenience to riders as they can choose any payment mode, be it cash, credit card or mobile carrier billing. When a customer requests a ride, the driver’s name and car details will become visible.
Abbas Mohammed, who regularly uses the Bolt service, said: “I use it especially when I am late for work. Apart from being very efficient, their drivers are courteous and very polite. It has made transportation very convenient and easy, though the price is determined by your destination. Then, it is stress-free.”
  Uber Bus coming
If talks go well, Uber plans to help develop a bus system for Lagos. Commuters can buy, book and pay for bus rides using an in-app ticketing service.
Its representatives have met with transport officials in Lagos, according to Uber’s General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa Alon Lits.
Uber Chief Business Officer Brook Entwistle met with Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in June.
“I think the bus will prove to be a game-changer for Lagos and is very much needed,” Lits said. He added Lagos officials were “excited” by the prospects of partnership. “It is a longer-term engagement but it is something we are willing to do and I think grateful for the willingness on the other side.”
Last December, the company launched its first bus service in Cairo, which like Lagos is traffic-clogged. Nigeria, South Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire are its new targets.
While the ride-hailing services have affected the traditional taxis, the Uber Bus is expected to compliment the Bus Rapid Transport, the Lagos smart bus service and deal another blow on the yellow buses, whose drivers are screaming as the noose gets tighter.

The Nation

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