Uber, Fizzling Out Too Soon?


When the American transportation network company, Uber, came onboard in 2009, it was a well-accepted initiative which made many heave a sigh of relief over an application that offers to make transportation service cheaper, reliable and accessible at one’s doorstep without much ado.

 A location-based app that makes a hiring on-demand private driver easy, Uber was launched in California, United States of America and within a short period, spread to over 647 cities, across 77 countries. The business is currently valued at $70 billion.

 With Uber came a redefinition of transportation business, which has leveraged technology tools to meet the stylish and the actual riding needs of business travellers, socialites, individuals, fun-seekers and many others.

 But for some obvious factors, the pioneering firm soon began to lose the flavour that greeted it when it carved a niche in the industry.

 In recent times, the US-based business has been swimming in and out of one controversial issue to another bothering on regulatory violations, safety and security concerns, poor customer service and harassment of passengers by drivers amidst other disparaging claims which are being spotted on local and foreign media.

 This has caused the firm to forfeit its business licence in countries like Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Hungary and some cities in USA.

 Still struggling for reconciliation in the restricted areas, the firm soon hit the roadblock in London and just last week, the Transport for London threatened not to renew its licence after the present one expired today, September 30th. The firm was said to be inadequate with corporate responsibility as well as safety and security. Although, the organisation is still seeking a soft landing with the London authorities.

 In 2014 when it launched in Nigeria, the app which operates extensively within Abuja and Lagos metropolises became the toast of many, almost crippling business for the local taxi operators. Presently, from all indications, the forerunner appears to be gradually losing ground in the country as customers’ reports and experiences portray a not-too-pleasant image about the company.  For Nigerians, it has been mixed feelings. Chief among Nigerians’ grievances are the company’s insensitivity to the safety and security of innocent passengers and even drivers, and other complaints.

 Not quite long, the media was awash with the story of one Christabel Bello who escaped death by a whisker after surviving an attack while on an  Uber ride.

Away from this, there have been cases of sexual molestation, assault and even murder of a driver on duty. The above reflect the inadequacy of the company in the area of security, thus leaving many skeptical of the platform.

 A passenger, Femi Aderibigbe, said he was discouraged by his first experience using an Uber taxi and therefore expressed doubts on future patronage.

 He complained of reckless driving, zero knowledge of routes and delay in bill computation.  From the drivers’ angle, the business may not be profitable after all. Narrating his experience, a former driver, Ugwu Ikechukwu, noted that drivers struggle to subsist on the platform because of the dwindling economic situation in the country.

 “As a driver, one is expected to fuel a car with personal fund, and then share the profit with the employer who takes 25 per cent, yet, does not make any provision for contingency to cover for mechanical faults and other issues. Again, the balance after the 25 per cent deduction, we still have to share with the partner who is the owner of the car. I must say the enterprise isn’t worth it,“ he insisted

 To him, the company could only favour its drivers and guarantees its stability in Nigeria by reducing its share and earnings to 10 per cent in US.