Uber on Kampala streets

Uber in Kampala

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[/blockquote]Just the other day, we reported about a startup in Uganda called transprt.me setting up shop to the potential Kampala clientele with automotive hailing services. I was wowed, how on earth could this be possible? Of course it is. It’s been done somewhere, so can it be replicated here in our motherland. This has long been one of the issues of Ugandan startups duplicating western services and cross their fingers for  them to work. Case in point– this brings me to the Holy grail of taxi hailing services, Uber.

Have you ever heard about Uber ? Maybe this should have been the first question I would have asked. Before transprt.me came off paper, there lay the crown prince of taxi hailing services called Uber. At a 50+ billion valuation (Read that in dollars), it is the world’s most valuable unicorn and it well takes the props as the world’s biggest taxi company. Surprisingly, it owns no taxi fleet.

It connects riders to drivers, who sign up and are accredited by Uber itself to offer Uber services. In essence, Uber owns no ground vehicles, but acts as a middleman between drivers and riders. Riders use the Uber app, search for Uber drivers in close proximity, summon them and vroom the Uber drivers help them reach their destinations. Of course at a fare basing on the distance traveled in ETA. Users can rate Uber drivers and likewise the drivers to riders. So shall we ever see Uber on Kampala streets?

The Ugandan story

As a daily commuter, my everyday taxi escapades often prompt me to make rants over Twitter. Some are bizarre, others outright annoying while the overall experience is one you ought not remember. From having to wait long hours for a taxi to arrive, the short-lived “customer being supreme” experience until you take a seat, the untidiness exhibited inside the taxis and a blurry of other annoying things tied to Ugandan taxis.

Owning a personal vehicle would be the ultimate solution, but I am a commuter, remember! So we’re left at the mercy of ‘bulaaza ogenda’ fellows together with their rowdy boda-boda counterparts. Which brings in taxi hailing services as one outright solution  for pickups and drop offs.

The disruptive Uber services are the formal catalysts as to why you’re reading this. They overturn my experiences at a tap of a button and appraisals from our neighbours in Nairobi plus a few from my traveling friends just make you wish Uber launches here. Going for an outing with friends? Call an Uber. Attending a biz meeting in the CBD? Hail an Uber and so forth. As simple as you’ve read it.

Would, Uber on Kampala streets sail a tide free journey?

Needless to say, Uber hasn’t sailed a tide free journey, the legalities of its operations have often than not sparked off protests across a multitude of cities where it operates. With many taxi operators and city governing authorities arguing that it’s pushing them out of business and at the same time reducing on their revenue inflows.

However, Uber’s appeal or the gist here is; the user experience drives customers to Uber than to cab drivers or normal taxi operators.

Can’t we clone it here given the many woes we endure to and fro our journeys? Issues like safety and convenience come in which the said company has somewhat addressed. Uber has already experimented with cash payments which most Ugandans are accustomed to than cashless payments, which makes perfect business sense in case they’re to open their doors to Ugandans or Kampalans in particular.

Safe Boda and Easy boda have tried their luck here though their uptake is still alarming which creates more room for disruptive services in the transport sector like Uber to fill the void.

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