In Uganda, transport has always been a huge problem and back in 2014 and below, all that Ugandans had to depend on were taxis, buses and the very a disorganised boda-boda sector. Don’t get me wrong, the boda-boda sector is still a mess.
Around 2015, Safe Boda entered into the transport hailing business and it was a hard market that came with challenges from the political sector to the boda-boda riders fighting them as well.
Safe Boda became very trusted by clients because the client was put first. No need to bargain on fairs as estimations were put out for you to view before even confirming the ride.
For many clients, this was a major step in the right direction and the fact that Safe Boda places the safety of the clients first for example, ensuring that they wear helmets, that the rider is not over speeding and that they don’t leave unless the client has entered their premises was a big selling point for clients.
Towards the end of 2016, Uber joined the market and this was huge news for Ugandans and mostly those who had travelled of course (kidding). With it came the fact that clients could ride in cars and pay a favourable fee, unlike the enormous amounts they used to pay whenever they hired cars or special hires so to say.
Shortly after, a new competitor known as Taxify later joined the race around 2017 bringing the aspect of competition as it came with boda-boda and taxi hailing services.
Taxify, now re-branded to Bolt, brought competition which meant that these companies had to put up really cheap services to be able to get a percentage off the already small market.
However, irrespective of the merits brought by these transportation apps, the big question is on why there is an increase in client harassment.
Earlier on in the year, two ladies raised complaints on social media about how they had been harassed by Uber-affiliated drivers. The cases were reported to Uber but we never really got to see what the investigations resulted into despite the young ladies having evidence of physical abuse and bruises on their bodies as a result of their encounter with the drivers that they were paying to deliver them safely to their homes.
On Monday, a lady under the Twitter handle @Dinah_Vence shared screenshots of how she was insulted by a Bolt boda-boda rider who was trying to con her of Shillings 1,500.
Below are screen shots showing the conversation that went on between Dinah and the rider;
In her statement, she says that she ordered for a bike and upon reaching her destination, her app showed that she owed the rider UGX 3,000. However, to her surprise, the rider showed her a different figure which was UGX 4,500.
Dinah states that she paid the rider UGX 3,000 according to what her App had shown and left. To her surprise the next day, she received very vile messages from the boda rider insulting her and her family.
Some areas of the screen shots have been blacked out due to offensive language.
According to the screenshots that Dinah shared, Bolt took major steps in ensuring that the rider was ejected from the system but the question that now arises is do these riders go through training on how to settle disputes with clients? And if so, is there a mechanism that companies use to compensate the riders so as to avoid scenarios where they have to haul such insults to clients.
Secondly, what are the police and transport ministries doing to ensure that these hailing companies ensure the safety of clients who also happen to be citizens of the country?
So many transport hailing apps users have been complaining about many issues which include fairs that weren’t the same as indicated in the estimate, to harassment. There needs to be something done to ensure that users are protected from such incidents.
Speaking to Max who has a vast knowledge of the transport hailing Apps in Uganda, he states that “Most of these riders do this because what they are getting isn’t enough because the system takes away from them more than it gives them”
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!