NIGERIA – Popular ride-hailing firm, Uber has in October this year launched UberBOAT in Lagos as a pilot scheme to determine the viability of water transport in Nigeria.

The UberBoat pilot scheme will operate between the Five Cowries Terminal, Ikoyi and Ikorodu Jetties, the ride-hailing firm has said.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a special guest at the launch, was among the first people to take a ride on the newly unveiled UberBOAT.

The launch was held within the Lagos State Waterways Authority complex at the Five Cowries Jetty Falomo.

Uber’s General Manager for West Africa, Lola Kassim, said during the pilot phase, the service was going to be available between the Five Cowries and Ikorodu Jetties.

He added that the boat service would be focused on moving people from point A to point B via the Lagos waterways.

According to Ms Kassim, the UberBOAT initiative is being executed in conjunction with the Lagos State Waterways Authority and is aimed at improving workers’ productivity by easing road congestion where several man hours were being wasted.

“With UberBOAT, riders can leave their cars at home and instead utilise the waterways as a means of getting around faster and with less stress,” she said.

The firm also explained how to use the boat service, saying, “There are two ways to book a trip on UberBOAT; the pre-booking which is 24 hours before, or on the day of the trip.

Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, said at the launch that the UberBOAT presented a unique opportunity to help improve mobility in the state.

Managing Director, Lagos State Waterways Authority, Damilola Emmanuel, said, “At LASWA, our mission is to develop the waterways in Lagos State as a means of giving the people of this great city more efficient options to get around.”

Damilola added that, “Because UberBOAT utilises technology, then it means that the efficiency we seek is achieved, and we are able to bring the service to even more people within the city.”

Uber was first launched in Lagos Nigeria in 2014 and has since expanded into the country’s capital Abuja.

Faced with stiff competition from other ride hailing apps, most notably Taxify.

The launch of UberBOAT would thus provide uber with the diversification it needs to stay afloat in a highly competitive market like Lagos.