Why Uber worries conventional taxi operators.


I’m appalled! Hurt at the same time. Africans have come a long way from being deemed unreasonable and backward. We have fought so hard (and still need to) to accept change, cling to it like a like a tick on hide and never let go. 

We need to accept change (inevitable as it is) and accept the realities of living in a 21st century time that allows free movement of ideas, goods, services and people.  Gone are the days when we would fight change, no matter how it tends to help, and yell to the white man (European ways) to go back whence he came from and leave us in our cow hides, breast and ball dangling frenzy! Things will change and they have, so its easier to get on board than “toi toi” to have Uber regulated or removed.

We live in a society that has sirvived by adopting and making carbon copies of other cultures. A thin line separates the many differences we think we have. It is so easy to feel at home in a distant country, the societal texture is the same and Uber is part of the many businesses that have made us not drop our jaws at the sight of new inventions and start ups. We are at par with developed nations, something many other countries might not have the privilage of seeing in their lifetime. Uber is one of these.

We can relate. For it feels there is nothing special about your country that is not in ours, we might have copied it, but we have it too.

To block roads and chant slogans and demand Uber be removed is like asking a fellow neighbor not to venture into the taxi business because you fear for losses. The point is, Uber is just a platform and the owners are your brothers and sisters who also want a better life for themselves just like you do. “Adapt or die” said one tweet.

HOW THESE TWO CAN CO-EXIST!

It got me thinking, how best can the conventional taxis look at Uber’s and not want to pluck it out. If they can try these simple methods, they might just make it as they counterparts did.

  • Create a local version of Uber. I don’t know if ‘Taxify’ is South African but see what lacks in Uber and adopt one for the South African market.
  • Be pro-active. Instead of waiting on customers to come to you and your business, go out and look for ways that will make your service easily reachable.
  • Upgrade your fleet of cars to a modern one and ensure best service always.
  • Be user friendly. Ensure you use social platforms that can link you to a customer rather than the more expensive way of using a phone call to hull a cab.
  • Offer competitive pricing. Today, everybody wants to save, you have a good price, people will take it.
  • See Uber as an eye opener into a world of possibilities not your downfall.

    I am sure there are many ways that cab/taxi unions in South Africa can look at in the possible intent of making their business equally viable as Uber other than ‘toi toi-ng’ giving more credibility and exposure to their enemy.

    Over the past week when the demonstration was in effect, thousands went in favour of Uber and their services and put a dampener on the crying voices which largely went unheard and heavily criticised. There seems to be no one on the conventional taxi side other than the owners themselves, pity!

    Read more here.

    Social Media is not the enemy! You are!

    Social Media is not the enemy! You are!

    Mahlobo said 

    “social media, instead of providing “endless opportunities” for personal and business interaction, had become host to negative and untrue opinions.”
    When social media proliferated, it seemed, not so long ago that, it was not for the serious, business minded and definitely not for politicians and governments. In a matter of months after society was sharing photos, statuses and trending, they (all mentioned above) came along boasting of expensive suits, lingo, social topics to discuss; a meet the people platform that could facilitate campaign drives with little or no cost at all compared to their former ways of print, print and more print.

     They could rally the masses with a single message and change perceptions with a photo. Such has been the magic of social media in their hands.

    But alas! When we, who have been nothing but social and needing the same platforms to engage with distant loved ones and occasionally to vent our anger when a lover enstranges, decide also to vent our anger at the same institutions and individuals that invaded our social space, exposing them to what they really are. Kleptocrats, murderers and liers.

    Pic courtesy of Zimbabwe Mail

    When their ‘higher than thou’social statuses are now questioned and laid bare for all to see, plan to regulate, block or ban a thread to society that has done nothing but give people the power to be heard.

    All the people want is to be treated as people, not as stooges and rags. As a politician, government, political party, with the eagerness to listen, social media could make your job easier. What you simply feed into it, is what you get out of it. Its the basics of social media.

    You feed the people with lies and fancy words and empty promises, they will retaliate with excessive frustrations, e-mails, petitions and ‘youmustfall’ hashtags. It is what it is. The more they twit, the more the noise is heard and the larger the masses gunning for your head.

    It is simply outrageous for a ruling government to think that no-one else can do a better job than themselves let alone fail to attract criticism for their actions. 

    A lot of what is happening today is not as a result of the abuse of social media platforms but rather poor decision making by people in positions of power leading to mass protests through this medium. 

    Social media has done nothing wrong than good (mostly), highlighting areas that were hidden away by propaganda filled machinery and given them a good run for their money. They have simply been put to the test and have had to re-think on strategies of how best to fabricate lies without the truth coming out in the open.

    In instances where a lie has been spread online, retractions, apologies and the delete button has been the most effective way of dealing with it, perhaps African states shivering and gnawning their teeth over their so called claims of ‘social media abuse’ should consider ways of having the masses verify information passed on the net. One such suggestion is to have their people on the ground, conveying messages to the rest of us and becoming a source of information rather than a mere consumer.

    The recent ugly tensions between foreigners and locals in a part of Pretoria could have easily been understood if councillors of these areas where up to date and feeding the rest of the country on the issues pertaining their area instead of disproving online messages that went viral because someone fed the nation with their worst fears!

    Mahlobo statement is not entirely false. People do spread “opinions” and there are entitled to them, its their right. How on earth can they want to regulate what someone is saying on their own capacity as a social platform user? It baffles the mind. Even if you go the route of banning a platform, thousands of others will spring up and people will still have a voice.

    Governments such as the one here in South Africa must desist from threatening the right to media freedom and freedom of expression of the people.

    If you want to trend, rather get rid of the rot, crime, inequalities and all evil that has befallen the nations, then our twits will change and our posts will be nothing but happy times. Think about it.

    Is Uber profitable in South Africa?

    uber1bDon’t get me wrong, I love Uber, at first I believed it was amongst the greatest innovations within the 21st century amongst Facebook and Twitter until I was waiting on the street on a rainy night (courtesy of cyclone Dineo) and all I seemed to get from Uber drivers allocated to me was, sorry your driver had to cancel.

    Four drivers had cancelled, humiliatingly so as I had gone on and on to my colleagues bragging about the service and low cost Uber offered as compared to dodgy security details patrolling the night that charge them 20-30 rand each for a trip or the conventional taxi drivers who charge 100 – 200 rand over the same distances. I was simply running out of answers to where my ride was as my initial 14 minutes ETA had flown past with no car in sight. The last driver to decline was kind enough (or not) to call and tell me to make other plans as it did not make “money sense” to drive 15 minutes for a journey of five and as much as I wanted to show Uber’s effectiveness and style to my colleagues, I had to agree. For the first time in my lovely relationship with Uber, I saw her other side. My five minute ride didn’t matter but the driver’s 15 did.

     

    The rain poured down heavily and with no other choice I went along with friends to ask patrolling security detail at a nearby garage to take me home. Within a few seconds of arriving, one determined Uber driver who had eventually accepted my trip, called to ask for my whereabouts. In my apparent demise, I had packed my phone in a dry pocket and proceeded to the garage when he decided to come fetch me. Initially the ride was supposed to have been far cheaper as we where going to take the same taxi and split the charge but now because my other friends had already made other plans, I had to cough up the fare alone, as such because I loved their service before then, feared to have to pay for a ride which I did not cancel.

     

    As usual my ride was nice, the car was smart and smelled nice, my driver even hard the car warm and stirred up conversations that have become synonymous with my every ride. Because the service is relatively new in South Africa and nothing like it, I still have a lot of questions on how it operates and it is like getting it from the horse’s mouth.

     

    John (not his real name) was kind enough to explain to me as to the reason why there seemed to be no car available to me when I requested. It is in the way the service operates that might leave you wondering if the business owners of such a huge company are making any money at the end of the day. John told me how he has to wait for hours at the airport in a queue from Uber until eventually he is allocated a passenger. The queue he says can last for hours until eventually getting a passenger who could be going as far as the next city. All fair and done, the customer will pay for the ride but the driver will have to travel back again to the same airport for a fee that reflects only the passengers destination and not the cost to come back and also minus the service fees that Uber takes from the driver.

     

    And as for when he picked me up, he was just from dropping a passenger on his way back to yet another queue when he decided to accept my ride.

     

    It took him about 14 minutes to get to where I was, I am guessing there where no other Uber taxis in the area at that moment. It then took us 5 minutes to get home, a ride, which cost 35 rands. I honestly felt bad having to pay him such little money but because I have little in depth understanding of how he is making his money, the little conversation we had was enough to let me know that on this particular trip, the poor fellow came out with nothing.

     

    “We as passengers can sometimes benefit from Uber, but we can’t always rely on it.  It is worth considering, while enjoying an Uber ride – what would happen if Uber effectively put regular taxi services out of business?  What would happen if we got a ‘no cars available’ message and had no other alternatives to turn to

    Maybe Uber will grow to ‘meet the market’.  But if it is losing money at present, is more growth going to cause it to lose money faster or to stop losing money and turn profitable?  More to the point, is there an unlimited supply of potential drivers that Uber can add to its driver base?

    The answer to the question about driver supply is key.  That very low fare you just paid to an Uber driver may or may not be sufficient for the driver to stay in business.  Remember that Uber takes 20% – 30% of the fare you pay for its role in the middle, and all of a sudden, a R30.00 Uber fare means a net of perhaps R24.00 for the driver, who then has to pay all his own costs and also self-employment taxes on whatever slim ‘profit’ may remain.” MiscellaneousReviewsTravel

     

    Uber’s business models centres on being cheap and now that we have shunned conventional taxis who in turn are feeling the competition and leaving for home in the early hours of the night, we seem to be stuck with a service that might not have enough drivers to come to your aid or unwilling to come through because it does not make profitable sense. The flip side of this dilemna is knowing a colleague who is still waiting to have his Uber permit approved so he can start offering rides.

    Uber is a great service, but before many South Africans get vehicle credit to put up a fleet on the streets of Johannesburg in the hope of making a kill, they need to come up with a driver base large enough to put out all the fears of being stuck on the road with no driver willing to accept your ride, no matter how insignificant it might be to the business.

     

     

     

    The second 1st lady.

    Regardless of what many may say about Robert Mugabe especially being sarcastically branded as running a “Democratic Monarchy“, My readings about his other side of life “in the otherroom” proved that the presence of trueloveaffection and faith could actually and prospectively fuel the efforts of a man, irrespective of the road he has chosen to travel.” Iambrokofi

    Came across this passage from a blog from Iambrokofi:  HEART OF A KING – http://wp.me/p82dxz-3Y and in a writing that was inspiring at first and then eventually becoming a sad end to a great tale.

    #Iambrokofi’s attachment of first ladies in his blog and how they influence the greatness of a serving president was clear, citing examples but fell short of describing our current demise as Zimbabweans, that of the 2nd wife.

    No matter how we look at it, first ladies shape the way a president will hold office, it is a given in the world today. Take Michelle Obama for instance and how many view her as the pillar and council that made Barack reach full potential. By doing so, she became an important voice in their nation, when she spoke people listened.

    And so it was when Amai Sally was still with us, she was a voice of reason and a pillar to a great man. Sadly the latter, the “queen bee” has given us no joy nor reason to dream beautiful dreams. We have almost no chance of impregnating our country with success. We are but like the wind, no end in sight to our journey and no memory of whence we came from.

    Heartbroken.

    “Staying true to yourself never goes out of style”

    “Staying true to yourself never goes out of style”

    I guess the statement is true. Many a times we have tried so hard just to conform to other views and trends while chucking ours in the trash can.

    Somali-American Halima Aden is staying true to her identity and her lifestyle, chosing not to hide it or fake it no matter what industry says about it.

    Normally for a model, we should be able to view a masterpiece from the designer without an hinderances on the body, in short, all should be from the designer and very little of somebody else’s work. But that has not stopped the model who loves her origins to insist on wearing her hijab (covering her hair and neck).

    Read more on the story via Somali-American Model Halima Aden Makes Headlines After Rocking Her Hijab At Kanye West’s Fashion Show — Yaa Somuah

    aden-yeezy
    Photo Courtesy of Yeezy 

     

    What strikes me more is the fact that many people have lost their identity to conform to standards set by industry trend setters. Many have joined cults while others have remained silent on issues of religion and faith that would have largely contributed to their rise.

    In the western world, a well dressed and good looking woman will mostly have a good hair do that compliments what she has on, having a hijab moves contrary to this notion.

    “For Aden, being cast proved incredible both for the experience itself and the chance to see the famous family behind the label. “I had the opportunity to briefly meet Kanye and Kim at my fitting yesterday, so that was fun!” says Aden…. Though finding looks that reflect her standards of modesty can provide a momentary challenge, Aden has been heartened by the way in which stylists like Roitfeld have been willing to work with her. “Oftentimes, they have to put me in a few things before finding something that I know would be deemed appropriate.” She said to Vogue.

    Aden has started a revolution of her own. She has managed to ‘found a way to respect both her values and her desire for creative expression’ (Vogue) and in turn has turned heads in doing so, a lesson which everyone who is in the entertainment industry is supposed to heed.

    “My goal is to send a message to Muslim women and young women everywhere that it’s okay to break stereotypes and be yourself,” she says. “Always stay true to who you are—barriers can and will be broken!”

     

    We shall overcome!

    We shall overcome!

    The year has started on a positive note (well, except for Trump in office) and sadly with a bit of writer’s block (largely attributed to the festivities and travelling that I undertook) but good in other terms such as my baby starting to walk and lip sync a few nursery rhymes and spoken word at just over one year old.

    I would love to know how at my son’s age, one year four, what thoughts and plans my father had for me. I can imagine I was full of promise and potential that all they ever envisaged was nothing but the best. That was before the nightmare of politics and never ending leaderships and a dirty and unforgiving last minute retrenchment saw him etch out a living as an entrepreneur and now village farmer. It all went south and to the best of his abilities, pulled through.

    It makes me look at this young soul that I was blessed with and wonder if ever I can turn out to be the best ‘poppa’ he will ever have. Appreciative of the fact that we do not hold the future and in the blink of an eye, things can change for the better, I pray to the Almighty and powerful to watch over him and bless him with wisdom to reach full potential .

    There has been a distinct call for change of reigns within my country and many nations across the globe upon leaders and governments that simply cannot seem to make life better for their masses. For in their disregard of social and economic concerns, they have changed the prospects of many lives and brought nothing but suffering to the masses, leading to once was prospective candidates in dire need to do anything under the sun to earn a living.

    And so I have been disappointed so many a times that I have ceased to try and cry for someone to look at my plight and help. Simply said I am no beggar but I would rather be a beginner. One that is capitally minded rather than in search of capital. To be an owner rather than to owe people.

    As the year progresses, lets make new paths for ourselves, looking up to God for better openings. If a little David in the telecommunication business (Strive Masiyiwa) could stand against a Goliath of red tape and stringent laws against such businesses and still prevailed then I am hopeful, come heavy rain nor sunshine I can too.

    Let me belatedly say, happy 2017!