One of the boats for the ferry service at the Lagos State Waterways Authority complex’s Five Cowries Jetty in Falomo, Lagos, Friday. “This initiative is aimed at providing commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts,” Uber said in a statement /Photo: UberBoat

Uber launches boat service in Nigeria’s megacity Lagos

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday kicked off UberBOAT – the pilot phase of Uber’s boat service in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos. The launch took place at the Lagos State Waterways Authority complex’s Five Cowries Jetty in Falomo.

Speaking during a media parley, the governor said his government was committed to building infrastructure that supports multi-modal transportation, which includes water transport.

Sanwo-Olu explained that the government collaborated with global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc on the new UberBOAT project because of the shared vision to utilise the waterways more as a means of decongesting the city’s logjam traffic.

Giving more insight into the project, the general manager, West Africa, Uber, Lola Kassim, explained that in the pilot phase UberBOAT would be available between the Five Cowries and Ikorodu jetties. She stated that one of the reasons for the launch was to address the problem of losing man-hours every day to vehicular traffic jam in Lagos, which affects productivity.

Kassin said, “We are looking at ways to provide commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts. With UberBOAT, riders can leave their cars at home and instead utilise the waterways as a means of getting around faster and with less stress.”

There are two ways to book a trip on UberBOAT: The pre-booking, which is 24 hours before, or on the day of the trip. The riders can visit Uber website to reserve a seat on the boat, and will thereafter receive a confirmation that secures their spot.

The second option is to arrive at the jetty on the day of the trip 30 minutes before cruise time, open the Uber App, select UberBOAT and input either the pick up or drop off points. A PIN will then be generated that is used to secure the rider’s spot on the boat.

Uber officials said there would be four trips a day, carrying up to 35 people on a boat, during the two-week pilot.

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 (€1.30) per trip.

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.

Kola Tella

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