KARACHI: Uber launched on Thursday its services in Karachi its second destination in Pakistan after starting the business from Lahore about six months ago.
The international smartphone app that connects riders to drivers has offered four days (Thursday to Sunday) of free rides up to Rs300 to its users to make its presence felt in the largest city of Pakistan.
“Karachi is the seventh largest city in the world and primarily its big population has attracted us. Besides this, we also look at the transportation system and other infrastructure in place when we enter different markets,” Uber Head of Pakistan Expansion Zohair Yousafi told The Express Tribune.
“The security situation in Karachi has improved a lot in the last three years. And we are very much impressed with the welcoming attitude of the Sindh government on our Karachi launch.”
The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Sindh government’s transport department on its launch on Thursday to support the use of technology in the transportation system.
In Karachi, the company has first launched uberGO, a low-cost product, which will have a cash option. UberGO will serve Clifton, Saddar Town, Jamshed Town, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town, Liaquatabad, North Nazimabad, Gulberg Town, Malir, Malir Town and Korangi.
Uber MEA Head of Expansion Loic Amado is confident that the launch of services in Karachi would exceed his expectations. “The response that we have received from Karachi at our launch has already beaten all our previous records of any other city in the Middle East and Africa region,” Amado said while talking to The Express Tribune.
Uber’s fleet size in Lahore is 1,000 cars. These partner-drivers cater to the active client base of 65,000 in the city. Looking at the initial response, company officials say they are confident of making a strong client base in Karachi in a very short time.
“We believe we can bring a positive change here by employing unemployed drivers. For instance in Cairo, about 40% of our drivers were totally unemployed, but later they got cars on low interest rates from financial institutions and now they are contributing to economic growth of the country,” said Amado.
“Yes, we are in talks with several banks and looking for different options so that we can create more economic opportunities by creating more jobs,” said Yousafi, when asked about car financing options for Uber partner-drivers.
Uber’s next target is Islamabad, the last first-tier city. After that, its target is second-tier cities like Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Hyderabad, etc.
“If you (Pakistanis) want Uber in your city, start downloading our app. This is how we can judge the demand in your city and decide which city to enter first,” said Amado on the expansion plans in the second-tier cities.
The minimum fare for Karachi is Rs150 while per kilometre rate is Rs9.38. The cost per minute will be Rs2.
Uber officials say their rates are very competitive and they are ready to face competition in Karachi. “The growing competition will only improve services and it will eventually help consumers,” Amado added.
Courtesy : Express Tribune