SafeBoda breaks silence as pressure mounts over ‘sinking’ services

SafeBoda breaks silence as pressure mounts over ‘sinking’ services

SafeBoda riders (Picture courtesy via SafeBoda Kenya/Twitter)

Uganda’s oldest motorcycle taxi hailing service, SafeBoda, has come under serious fire this week, with most of the critics saying the company services are tapering off, giving a smorgasbord of reasons to back up their claims.

SafeBoda is the most pronounced ride-hailing service in Kampala, making it the most used app thus anything that happens about it will most likely attract a lot of attention.

In the past few days, multiple users have taken to social media, hitting out at the company with withering feedback, especially focusing on the behavior of the riders these days.

According to multiple tweets SautiTech has seen, some riders deliberately switch off the app, while others have started patronizing customers.

This has been noticed in cases where a passenger is seeing riders in the vicinity but on hailing, the app indicates that there are no riders close. In other situations, passengers approach the riders to use the pairing button and the riders back them off.

Another key issue that has been highlighted in a series of tweets is that riders, instead of riding to pick passengers, they want the passengers to go to them.

Amid this growing criticism on social media, we contacted Damalie Wasukira, who is the company’s mouthpiece to find out how they are handling the situation.

“Yes, we’ve received all the feedback and we’re working on figuring out what exactly is happening. We are seeing the comments and we’re seeing the feedback and we’re looking into it,” she said.

Pressed to find out if they’ve already identified the root cause of this problem, she said she wouldn’t go into details, insisting: “Our team is looking into it, Nicholas.”

Until recently, SafeBoda has, arguably, been the most praised ride-hailing service in the country, but things started changing as more competition arrived on the market.

Must read: SafeBoda quietly kicks off operation in Kenya

The competition has meant boosting up efforts to enroll more riders, and some observers have said that most of the companies are no longer thoroughly examining credentials of riders, much less rigorously training them. The loosening in qualifications is meant to attract more riders, observers say. For instance, on the day Dial Jack launched, we had an interview with an official who told us training is done in only three hours.

It was also unheard of that a SafeBoda rider was not observing traffic rules, but these days there are reports about such.

On the issue of riders acting irresponsibly, especially towards customers, this is a problem that is not exclusive to SafeBoda; several protests have been staged by different riders in other companies, taking aim at their employees for exploiting them. With SafeBoda, the situation could have only been made worse by the recent removal of incentives for riders that had been motivating them to work.

Riders say they use a lot of fuel to pick passengers from distant areas, on top of airtime for voice and data bundles and without company support, they say, it stops making business sense. There are also some issues that were pointed out by some tweeps and can’t be relied on to conclude that the SafeBoda services are declining. For instance, some people said that they were frustrated by seeing SafeBodas passing by yet the app was showing none in their location. Most of the riders they saw could have been going to pick customers.

Below are some of the other reactions:

Related:

Exclusive: Inside 2 years of Uber in Uganda

Riders react as SafeBoda removes incentives