UberBoat may have taken advantage of the fact that the Atlantic Ocean separates Lagos Mainland from the Island via the Ikorodu Boat Terminal.
Hence, people who live at Ikorodu and work on the Island, not minding how close their workplaces are in the direct distance, do not have to go through the third mainland bridge to get to work.
This has not always been the case until organized boat hailing companies like GBoat and UberBoat entered the scene.
Imagine they had an affordable and safe boat service that could convey them to and from work al along? This has been a fundamental thought in the head of most Lagosians, especially those living in close proximity to the ocean, and GBoat and Uberboat are here to the rescue.
While not taking away anything from unorganized businesses conveying people from Ikorodu to the Island via canoes or makeshift boats, there is a fundamental question of safety. There are arguable situations where the boats capsize and a fatality occurs without likely insurance or fast rescue kits.
As is the case with most organized firms doing the boat business, there is often in-house emergency response teams, asides the ones provided by regulatory bodies. Also, no greater insurance than the fact that an UberBoat capsize would be a media scandal which the company would not be ready to belly.
GBoat launched before Uberboat, but following the latter’s market strength in the ride-hailing business already, it is pegging its price at N500 per trip. Currently, transiting from most parts of the Mainland to the Island would cost about N300 Naira on Danfo, N1000 Naira on Bike and 1700 on Uber taxis.
However, the boat service is starting off at 50% of the market rate in a likely price-led challenge against existing market players.
Nigeria’s Lagos was in 2017 ranked the world’s third most stressful city, and a major contributor was traffic. Talkabout wrote about the state of traffic in Lagos State here. However, the pertinent question remains; “is there a market for this?”
With an estimated population of 22 million, Lagos is known for its traffic congestion that has commuters spending hours on the road. However, 25% of its landmass consisting of water bodies, making commuting by water a plausibly efficient means of transportation.
Techcity reported that Uber disclosed the pilot phase will operate on weekdays from 0700 GMT to 1600 GMT on a fixed route from the Ikorodu Ferry Terminal on the mainland and Five Cowries Terminal on the island and commuters will be charged a flat fare of 500 Naira per trip.
This is only the second location in Africa that UberBoat would be launching this service, after Cairo, Egypt. With a less than $500bn GDP, people’s disposable income across the country is too small that above 80% is used to keep body and soul together via feeding. What this means is that Nigerians spend only for necessities and are price-conscious to a fault, especially most Nigerians that would be travelling from Ikorodu to the Island.
Arguably, UberBoat will shake the market with it’s low price point competitive advantage, but then, are most Nigerians aware that water transportation is a viable means of transportation in Lagos?
It becomes absolutely necessary for Uber, who is slated to become a market leader, to commission a campaign that will focus on increasing awareness of the viability of water transportation as a viable competition against the traffic-ridden land commute in Lagos.
This by all means, if handled by an agency given to quality, would deliver more people that would increasingly consider using boat UberBoat and GBoat as a primary means of transportation around Lagos.