Ride-hailing giant Uber says it’s introducing its boat taxi service, UberBOAT to Nigeria. The service is being tested on the waterways of Lagos, the country’s commercial capital and busiest city.
In a recent blog post on its website, Uber explained that the project would be executed in partnership with the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), and the Texas Connection Ferries. According to the post, a pilot phase of the new service will be run for two weeks, between October 11th and 25th.
During this test period, boats will sail a specific route between the Falomo and Ikorodu districts of the state. A total of four trips will be undertaken each weekday; one boat will depart the Ikorodu Ferry Terminal for Falomo at 7 AM, and another 8 AM. Two trips to Ikorodu will also be made from the Falomo Cowries Terminal in the evening, at 4 PM and 5 PM.
These trips match the direction of vehicular traffic in Lagos on weekdays. It generally flows from the Mainland into the business districts on the Island on mornings. This trend is reversed after working hours.
Uber casts UberBOAT as its intervention designed to help Lagos reduce its road congestion problems. Over 20 million people live and work within the city and its larger metropolis. Transportation happens mostly over land, despite the presence of several navigable creeks and a lagoon. The traffic on its roads costs the city thousands of hours and billions of naira in lost productivity every year.
Uber, which recently marked five years of doing business in Lagos, has become a relatively relaxed alternative to the rough-riding commercial buses that dominate the city’s expressways. Since its emergence on the local transport scene, a number of other ride hailing companies have sprung up as well, to cater to a population increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of transportation in the country’s major urban centers.
Users of the boat service are expected to arrange their trips on their Uber app, 24 hours before it is scheduled to depart the terminal. Each trip costs ₦500. However, trips may be cancelled in instances of bad weather.
This isn’t Uber’s first foray into transportation outside of cars. In January, it launched a similar boat taxi service in Mumbai, India. More recently, it kicked off a helicopter service for New York. It’s clear that Uber wants to spread into other modes of transportation, and it’s trying this out in projects across the world.
Lagosians will be hoping that more ventures like UberBOAT start up in the city, so that they are able to escape the tough traffic situation they encounter on land every day.
Featured image source: Premium Times NG