Opinion: Uber... Life Saver Or Disguised Thieves?
In case you haven’t heard there is something in town that launched in early June and it is called Uber. A special hire taxi system that has been embraced by most of the uptown Kampala young folks with smartphones and seems like it might just get some harsh resentment from the local special hire drivers.
What is Uber really?
Uber is an American multinational online transportation network company that was started in 2009 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. As of May 2016, the service was available in over 66 countries and 449 cities worldwide.
Since Uber's launch, several other companies have replicated its business model, a trend that has come to be referred to as Uberification. Klout, a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence ranked the San Francisco-based company as the 48th-most powerful company in America in 2014. By late-2015, Uber was estimated to be worth $62.5 billion. Now you see what we are talking about. It is already a phenomenon here in Kampala and it could really be helpful to you if you embrace it.
How Uber helps the normal office guy
Let’s look at this way, you wake up early morning at 5am and you really want to beat that winding traffic off that Entebbe road and get to a meeting where a new team of guys from work are being promoted, which you could be part of. You are from Bwebajja and you reach Zana and your car breaks down and yet you will need an hour to get it sorted. Remember the jam has now started piling since the other people also have their own agendas. You are stuck and you are too smart for a boda-boda, you have only Ush50,000 in your pocket yet your cab guy is expensive as they come and by the time he will get to you is probably in another hour’s time. So what do you do?
There is a new way of getting to office in time safely and cheaply. Think Uber my friend because Uber taxis are everywhere around your neighbourhood and they are very affordable which has made them an instant hit especially within the Ugandan corporate world. Their rates are so affordable that a normal office rat like most of us can exploit. A base fare is only Ugx 1 300, Ugx 900 per kilometre and only Ugx 200 per minute.
When you look at their fares you will realise that these Uber chaps are almost as cheap as paying a boda guy instead of a cab. There is not a single cab driver in Kampala who is happy about Uber and I took the initiative to sound out a few.
Jonan Lubwama is a cab driver who we met in town says;
“I have heard about this Uber thing and I am not happy about it. They are going to take us out of business. We were hoping on getting new customers as time goes on but now I think most of them will opt to use this new American method. I hope Ugandans reject it”
Kalule Ismail thinks differently though not exactly happy. He says;
“I think there are so many Ugandans everywhere our cabs park so our customers will always use our cars because they trust us. So I think we can co-exist. However our income levels will reduce because we will be forced to reduce our prices which is not good.”
For the party animal
If you have had the chance to travel around Africa, you would agree with me that Kampala is way up there when it comes to matters having fun and revelry. Ugandans spend way too much on merriment and this has steadily been instilled in us that this is who we are. A happy people.
Uber is exactly what the party animal needs. It can really be hostile out there in the middle of the night when you are totally spent and your vision is not as convincing. Your friends have driven off because your phone died and they couldn’t locate you at the nightclub yet you were in the bathroom. The cold can be really intense at 3am and Lukwago, the cab guy can only take you to Bweyogerere at Ush50,000 which you don’t have at the moment. Calling an Uber taxi comes in handy because their taxi drivers work under 24-hour supervision so you are safe. Their cars have trackers and they are quite reliable since you can easily identify them. This I can’t say for just a cab guy outside Club Amnesia. He might want to take advantage of you if you are female.
Once you have downloaded the Uber mobile app, it will connect you directly to the driver within your range instead of going through the hustle of physically locating a taxi or a boda guy. The app uses GPS to pick up your location and connect you the passenger to the nearest driver.
Now, you tell me how cooler can it get?