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Ride hailing app providers should think security – Okafor, Taxify boss

The risks involved in public taxi system, with its porous security system has created an opportunity which ride hailing app providers appear to be grabbing with both hands. Among the prominent operators which came to fill the void left by the insecurity of public taxi system in Nigeria is Taxify. Recently, Hi-Tech encountered the Operations Manager of the company, Uche Okafor, who also expressed fears that what happens with the regular public taxis may still affect the e-hailing taxi service providers if they do not take security issues as priority.

Uche Okafor

Excerpts:

About insecurity in taxi system, particularly in Nigeria: are e-hailing tech services immune?

Not necessarily. But the sharing economy in its purest essence thrives on trust. With e-hailing, it is important for operators to continuously put security measures in place to improve reliability and encourage the culture of trust. Being an e-hailing app that connects riders to reliable rides, a top priority of ours is ensuring that everyone that uses our platform feels secure. We do this by ensuring that all our driver-partners are required to undergo a vehicle inspection, present a valid driver’s licence and undergo direct training that assesses emotional intelligence before they are deemed fit to drive on the platform.

Talking about ride sharing in Nigeria with disturbing trends of kidnapping, is it feasible?

One thing that is true is that Nigerians are naturally intuitive people, which mean that as a country, we recognise a good deal when we see one. Ride-sharing is a simple way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and increase the number of people moving around in each car. This means reduced traffic congestion, more affordable fares and decreased automobile emissions. If you look closely at the transportation space in Nigeria, you will find that ride-sharing is already fairly popular informally. It’s not strange to see, for example, independent car owners at bus stops picking up people going their way in exchange for a fee. Tech powered ride sharing solutions give better structure, quality control and security to the existing ride-sharing model operational in Nigeria.

Don’t you think that the ride hailing app could run into a hitch in a Nigerian society that is prone to unstable internet access?

The e-hailing sector currently makes up about two per cent of urban transportation in most cities around the world, meaning that there is still a lot of market potential. For Taxify, it is not so much about survival as it is about growth and becoming a strong alternative to public transportation and personal cars. We are seeing that smartphone penetration in Nigeria is on the rise, driven by the availability of cheaper smartphones and an increased appetite for mobile internet. The mobile network ecosystem as a whole is improving and consumers now have more options. Importantly, the Taxify app is built to require less data from our riders.

What plan has Taxify adopted to help security system for riders, particularly in Lagos?

Lagos is moving towards attaining the mega city status. It is such an exciting market given the evolving taxi ecosystem. Taxify believes that ride hailing has the potential to ease up a lot of transportation tension in Lagos.  We have trust-building features that reveal the driver-partners photo, name, vehicle type and registration as well as each driver’s star rating is available on the Taxify app such that riders know who their driver is before getting in the car and can instantly compare the driver-partner information on the app against what is standing in front of them. Also, both driver-partner and riders have multiple support channels on Taxify.

Because digital media goes through the lifeblood of e-hailing, there is an additional feature in-app that gives riders the option to share their active trip status with friends and family, so everyone you permit can track your trip in real time. Anonymous feedback after every trip is also a security feature that allows you to rate the driver and leave comments on the quality of the ride experience.  Presently, we are rolling out Taxify Cover, a unique insurance initiative by Taxify Nigeria in partnership with AIICO Insurance Plc and facilitated by AutoGenius. The cover adds an extra layer of security by providing bespoke insurance to protect Taxify users on all Taxify trips.

Competition is becoming rife?

The city of Lagos holds massive potential given the size of the population and that over a million rides happen on a daily basis. Ultimately, we aim to change the way that people move within the city, create jobs and transform the transportation ecosystem. Competition is good and we believe there is room for several players in the ride-sharing economy. We believe that Taxify can effectively contribute to healthy competition by improving the quality of service, motivating driver-partners and offering affordable prices to Lagosians.

Our belief is that happier drivers translate to happier customers and as such we treat our driver-partners better so that they can in turn offer high quality service to customers.

Taxify drivers are also seen offering services to rival operators, is this not an anomaly?

A key selling point for e-hailing in the eyes of driver-partners is that they become entrepreneurs almost instantly. Driver-partners are their own bosses and can choose to operate on as many e-hailing platforms as they want.

What we have noticed however is that a lot of driver-partners show strong preference for driving and earning on the Taxify platform as their earning potential is significantly higher with Taxify, given that we take a lower commission and are always giving back to our driver-partners in the form of bonuses.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.