Uber has unveiled new measures it plans to implement in its ride-hailing operations from Monday when it resumes operations. Uber operations have been on hold due to the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 in Lagos.
Uber shut down operations in Nigeria on April 1, a decision which was followed by the firing of 3,700 of its staff across the world and the shutting down of 40% of its drivers assist centres. As the company plans to resume operations, these new measures are meant to provide some degree of safety for its drivers and passengers.
The new features which are based on user policing, give definitive guidelines for riders and drivers using its platform. The first measure is a limit on the number of passengers that can be on a trip. UberX can now only take a maximum of 3 passengers. UberXL, which is not yet available in Nigeria also has new limits on the number of passengers.
Also, passengers are no longer allowed to sit in the front seat.
Furthermore, there is now an online checklist that has to be read and agreed to in order to ensure a prospective passenger is taking appropriate measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Part of what the online checklist will confirm is whether the person is wearing a face mask and if the person has washed his/her hands to prevent spreading the virus on the trip.
Drivers as well, have to read and agree to the online checklist before picking an order for a ride. If at the pickup location the driver or passenger notices that the other is in violation of the requirements of the checklist, the person can cancel the ride and select ‘unsafe COVID-19 behaviour’ as the reason.
Uber has also incorporated selfie tech in a face mask verification feature to check if its riders are indeed wearing the masks or not. Drivers that constantly have their rides cancelled because the customer or selfie tech reported them for unsafe COVID behaviour will be removed from Uber’s platform.
The new measures will apply to Uber Eats and Uber delivery service as well.
“It is something that is expected because of the presence of coronavirus. It is good that people can give feedback and cancel rides if anyone is not wearing face mask,” Uber user, Faith Osisanya says.
Another user, Temiloluwa Osobisi thinks compliance with the policies in Nigeria will be largely based on the need for self-preservation.
“One thing to consider is whether the new regulations ensure that there is a bottle of sanitizer inside the driver’s car. After washing hands and in the process of entering the car, people may come in contact with the virus so it is important as well to ensure there is always a bottle of sanitizer available in the car,” Temiloluwa Osobisi says.
Another rider made a point for security of users since the app will be taking selfies with passenger’s cameras.
What is the provision for the security of people’s selfies when it is taken by the app? We use Uber largely for comfort, the new features require that we agree to roll down windows and sit in the back, meaning no air conditioning.
Uber’s target market comprises largely of middle to upper-class people who are more likely to be well-informed about the COVID-19 virus and would understand the need for the latest features.
It is not clear yet if Uber will provide face masks for its riders, but up-to-date information and self-preservation are adequate enough to ensure the policies are followed in Nigeria.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!