Taxi-hailing app Uber has launch in Kampala today. They are already recruiting staff to run their operations.
Uber already operates in nine sub-Saharan African cities in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya and will also launch in other cities in Ghana and Tanzania at the same time when they start business in Kampala.
Uber is a revolutionary transport network model founded in California, U.S.A. majorly driven by use of smartphone devices running Android 4.3, iOS 7, BlackBerry OS 7 and Windows Phone 8 and newer. The Uber app facilitates booking of taxi rides operated by Uber drivers sourced from regular people working on their own schedule who just so happen to own vehicles.
Alon Lits, Uber general manager in sub-Saharan Africa, said the company also planned to experiment with a cash payment option in South Africa, in addition to the electronic payment system in its app.
Uber’s business increased in Kenya, where many people do not use payment cards, after cash payments were accepted, he said.
But the business acumen of Ugandan taxi drivers and the mysterious puppet masters pulling their strings is something to behold. Fares will climb a ladder in the event of a downpour or an abrupt change in the usual route (don’t mind that the distance remains relatively the same) normally due to traffic jam or an accident up ahead and peak times are charged double and passengers have to sit packed like tiny mushrooms with chest in bosom of some random individual they don’t know like that.
In Kampala and allover Uganda, taxi touts get paid whenever a passenger enters a taxi (don’t worry that they didn’t pull you from your home and drag you to the designated stage).
Fuel hikes from countrywide shortages over the years have led to fares swiftly following suit. What is interesting though is the fare never goes back to the old rate despite fuel prices dropping due to global market forces. Maybe the entrance of Uber will change the taxi sector for the better.
Kampala already has a Uber of sorts, dubbed “Uber for motorcycle taxis” after the popular ride-sharing company which is run by Silver Tumwesigye, a sharply-dressed Ugandan motorbike taxi driver known by his nickname ‘Silverstone’.
By the end of last year, the company had enlisted 150 drivers at 35 “stages”—the boda-boda version of taxi ranks—since its launch. Each receives driving lessons, motorcycle maintenance and customer service training, and a first aid course taught by the Uganda Red Cross Society.
Drivers pay a membership fee of 10,000 shillings a week and are given a smartphone, a bright orange reflective vest and helmet, and a spare helmet for customers.