- Title: Uber launches boat service in Nigeria's megacity, Lagos
- Date: 14th October 2019
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MAN GIVING AN UBER BOAT APP DEMO ON A PHONE
- Embargoed: 28th October 2019 13:07
- Keywords: Uber pilot test of a boat service commuters waterways
- Location: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- City: LAGOS, NIGERIA
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA004B12JZH3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kehinde Ajayi, a Lagos-based architect, is putting on his life vest at a boat terminal in Nigeria's commercial capital.
His destination is Ikorodu, a town located on the outskirts of Lagos.
It takes about three hours to get to Ikorodu by road, but the boat crossing only takes about 30 minutes.
Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies launched a pilot test of a boat service in Lagos last week, to attract commuters like Ajayi, who are seeking to avoid the megacity's notoriously congested roads.
"This is a great improvement, you know when to leave work, you know when to leave your home, you know when to get to the ferry jetty to get your boat and really Uber has really set the pace for every other competitor out there," said Ajayi.
The waterway service, UberBOAT, is operated in partnership with local boat operator Texas Connection Ferries and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), said the ride-hailing firm.
The pilot phase will operate on weekdays from 0700 GMT to 1600 GMT on a fixed route between two locations in the city.
Passengers will be charged a flat fare of 500 naira ($1.39) per trip, compared with about 300 naira by minibus for a similar journey in the commercial hub of the West African country where most people live on less than $2 a day.
At a press conference on Friday (Oct. 11), Uber officials said there would be four trips a day, carrying up to 35 people on a boat, during the two-week pilot.
"We at Uber, we wanted to see what can we do now. What can we do now to increase awareness of options that are available today for people to beat that traffic right. You know the trip from Ikorodu to Falomo by boat is 30 mins that can take two hours, two and the half hours plus by road right, so Uber boat is about us being aware and tuned in to what the specific challenges of transport are in Lagos and doing our part to see how we can work with Lagos state to try and address some of those," said Lola Kassim, the general manager for Uber West Africa.
The United Nations predicts that Nigeria's population will more than double to 400 million by 2050, which would make it the third most populous country in the world after china and India.
With a combination of population growth, congestion and poor infrastructure, commuting remains a challenge for many in the country.
"Most people will be like aahh!..water! I'm not going to enter the water because number one your jackets are not even correct if there's a mishap most times all the mishaps have always ended up very fatally and that's because most of them if you actually investigate the jackets were not even correct in the first place so most people get drowned so most people are scared of the water ways," said Carlo Dosumu, a teacher.
"I think there are some people who maybe a little bit hesitant, they haven't been on a boat before, is this safe but you know what we've learnt that there are multiple safe operators on the waterways. We have the Lagos State Waterways Authority which is also doing its part to ensure operators on the waterways are safe," said Kassim.
Uber's boat initiative follows a number of motorcycle ride-hailing firms that have targeted West Africa as an area for expansion in the last few months.
Technology giant Google also launched a new feature in July that allows Nigerians to hear travel advice in a local voice on Google Maps. Another feature allows users in Lagos to seek directions from "informal transit" services, such as private minibuses.
(Seun Sanni, Nneka Chile)
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