Technology is driving the world into a more tranquil, stress-free and perhaps, if not careful, lethargic sphere.
And the emergence of a top-notch transportation system known as ‘Uber’ is a loud testament to how you can find and ‘ride’ almost seamlessly even in one of the toughest metropolis like Lagos.
Uber Technologies is a popular American online taxi service provider with presence in a whopping 77 countries and 503 cities worldwide. The idea was born on a snowy evening in Paris in 2008; two individuals, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had a problem hailing a cab. This explains why they came up with a simple idea to tap a button and get a ride.
The duo would later boast that “what we started as an app to request premium black cars in a few metropolitan areas is now changing the logistical fabric of cities around the world.
Whether it’s a ride, a sandwich or a package, we use technology to give people what they want and when they want it.” Sometime in 2014, after spreading across many cities of the world including some in South Africa, Uber thought Nigeria’s humongous population should get this service to lessen the transportation burden while also creating job opportunities to those willing to work using their cars.
Uber Lagos launched its UberBLACK, a relatively high-end transportation service that employs the use of top automobile brands like Mercedes Benz, Toyota SUVs, modern sedan vehicles and equivalent to move riders from one location to another in a more comfortable and luxurious fashion. So, whether you’re headed to work, the airport, or out of town, Uber connects you with a reliable ride in minutes.
It’s just all one tap on the downloaded Uber app on your mobile devices (phones and tabs) through the GPS that reads your lo-cation, you’ll be asked where you are headed, the various Uber drivers close to you would be made available with their phone numbers, the cars and SUVs, rates and you’d be asked where you are headed and how you intend to pay- cash or credit card. In 10 minutes or less, the taxi is right in front of you.
Subomi Esan, a university undergraduate, who had recently patronised an Uber driver still holds that nothing compares to that experience: “It was very cool. I rode in a Kia Sportage SUV from Eko Hotel, Adeola Odeku on Victoria Island, Lagos to the University of Lagos in Yaba with my friends and it was very convenient. We actually didn’t pay because we were just lucky to have the ride during promo because it was my first experience.
The Uber company footed the bill. I’m not sure I would be qualified for the promo if I was paying cash. This happened only last month.” A communications strategist, blogger and publicist, Bunmi Odunowo, who had traversed Lagos in different Uber taxis nearly a dozen times remarked; “There were times I’d used the taxis on my own and there were times when Juliet Ibrahim (the actress to whom she’s a publicist) got me to use it.
It has been a smooth experience devoid of unnecessary stress.” Do the drivers have the navigating system that enables them to know where there would be vehicular traffic so that they can take alternative routes? “Yes, they certainly have that facility. I’ve never encountered traffic in Uber taxis, not even once. There was only one different and unpleasant experience I had.
But I think the driver knew what he was doing. I’d already given him the address of where I was going in G.R.A. Ikeja, Lagos, but he was just going round and round the place because he thought he could hike the fare. You can estimate your fare despite what bill the Uber machine gives you and every time I did that, I was either inaccurate by N100 or N200 and it saves more cost.
My self-estimation of the fare is almost always accurate,” she retorted.And for someone who’d used the service for a considerable period of time, chances are that she could have taken advantage of the promo service, but Odunowo differs: “No, I don’t even bother myself trying to find those freebies.
I don’t use their codes, though I know some banks like Guaranty Trust Bank and First Bank offer it. I just take my phone and do the billing myself. I use credit card all the time but they don’t debit from my balance sometimes until a day or two later, but your card has to be in a good financial standing before you can use it.”
A young executive who simply wished to be identified as Sandra gave a forensic account of the twin experiences she had below: “I had heard about Uber a long time ago but was pretty skeptical about using their services because their app is expected to be connected to my bank account via my master card. To be honest, any type of external connection to my account makes me scared. But my friends encouraged me to embrace the cashless Naija theme, so I downloaded the Uber app which is available on apple and google app stores. It was my first experience.
I desperately needed a cab, so I decided to fill in my details and use Uber. Basically, the app shows you the available cab driver and details (name/picture/phone number), the number plate/car model (Uber cars are typically 2008 models and upwards), and the approximate pick up time. A fare estimate can also be requested prior to asking a cab.
The app is “map like” and shows directions from pick up point to destination.” She went further, “after requesting a cab, I got a call from the driver confirming my location and his arrival time. In less than 10 minutes, he was in front of my dorm. Once I got into the car, the driver began the trip. My cab was a 2009 Toyota Corolla and the driver was Abiodun.
He was a cheerful and polite guy who spoke a lot; I got tired of him talking so much. He was careful and didn’t drive like the regular Lagos drivers. I got to my destination in less than an hour, he ended the trip, and my bill was sent and deducted from my account. A rating poll was also available for me to rate my driver.”
But she found the second experience somewhat more blissful than the previous due to the overly gregerious personality disorder of the first driver. “My second experience was much better than the first mainly because the driver was so quiet and there was no awkward conversation. Uber pricing is almost similar to the rugged yellow cabs. Surulere to Lekki is roughly N3,000 with regular cabs but cost N2,600 plus AC with Uber. I rate Uber a steady 9/10. I was really skeptical at first, but it’s beautiful when you don’t have to haggle cab fares. First rides with Uber are almost free with N2,000 off once you use a verified promo code,” she remarked.
Aside grossly easing mobility of people, the Uber transport system has also begun to contribute to the GDP of the country by engaging owners of private cars who are taught how to make money using the vehicles that might hitherto had been serving no economic good to their owners. Uber provides the software to connect drivers to the riders and so, the company doesn’t own a single car.
It is a symbiotic partnership nonetheless and this is how it works. People make money on the Uber platform by driving their cars themselves and picking up Uber patrons or putting a fleet of cars on Uber network and hiring drivers to drive them. The easiest and most affordable way to achieve commercial result is to drive for yourself on Uber.
It avails you a rare opportunity to choose your own work hours; you can adjust your availability to suit yourself and Uber only sends you riders during your available hours. From time to time, there may be need to haggle prices with customers as fares are determined by the app, and are automatically calculated based on the distance and time. Uber takes 20 percent commission and credits your bank account at the end of each week or month with your earnings.