Riding High

@ABN

By Daniel Tiruneh

Transport  is  considered  a  critical  element  that  links communities  with  factors  that  facilitate  their  economic  and social  development  (UN  Economic  Commission  for  Africa, 2009). It is the medium by which rural and urban communities access jobs, education, healthcare, recreational/tourism activities and facilities.Additionally,  transport  facilitates  the  connectivity between businesses and raw materials,  and between businesses and other businesses and between  businesses and their  markets promoting  both  internal  and  external  trade.

ervice quality  in public transportation system consists of

internal  and  external  factors  which  affect  the  commuter’s

perception  of  public  transport  services  (Middleton,  1998a).

According to Abane (1993) an  important  aspect  of commuting

is  the  quality  of  services  offered  by  transport  facilities.

However  public  transport services  including Taxi services  in

developing  countries  are  fraught  with  a  number  of  problems

which  compromise  the  quality  of  services.  Adarkwa  (1991)

asserts  that  public  transportation  in  Ghanaian  cities  is

characterized  by  over-crowdedness,  excessive  waiting  times,

and long and  inconsistent  travel  times  coupled  with  poor  and

unreliable  services.  Govender,  (2016)  also  laments  the

challenges  that  minibus  taxi  commuters face  in  South Afriervice quality  in public transportation system consists of internal  and  external  factors  which  affect  the  commutperception  of  public  transport  services  (Middleton,  1998a).

However,  public  transport services  including Taxi services  in developing  countries  are  fraught  with  a  number  of  problems which  compromise  the  quality  of  services. Public  transportation  in  most Ethiopian  cities  is characterized  by  over-crowdedness,  excessive  waiting  times, and long and  inconsistent  travel  times  coupled  with  poor  and unreliable  services. Many argue that the challenges minibus and 3 or 4-passengers taxi commuters in Addis Ababa, is growing alarmingly. Safety and security is the biggest problem people suffer in the taxi transport sector in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Currently, some Uber-like taxi service providers are getting into the transport market with a view to rendering safe and reliable transportation service to the residents. A Pioneering company RIDE has gone through the different bureaucratic and aggressive project implementation processes to reach where it is now. It’s also paved the way to other similar companies that follow its suit in the sector. Samrawit Fikru, RIDE Founder and Manager tell ABN readers how she has been moving forward to realize her dream and what should be done by concerned government institutions to modernize the sector and promote innovation across the country.

As a young Ethiopian entrepreneur and visionary woman, Samrawit Fikiru had gone through different hustles and bustles until she got what she aspired to see. Two proposals, one featuring policy and the other focused on technology, have been ignored and refuted by some government institutions.Convincing local investors to engage in innovative businesses was hardly possible since many of them need immediate return, not a return that comes after four or five years. Moreover, securing loans and financial service was another bottleneck that obstructed her brilliant idea for some time.

Being optimist, Samrawit continued to go with her third proposal that currently makes her create job opportunity for over 480 citizens and bringing together 25,000 vehicles to render efficient and reliable taxi services to residentsof Addis Ababa.

“The most challenging partin my friends’ and my life was getting safe and reliable transport service especially during night time. The issue of security was on our day-to-day agenda for no one knows the driver, the plate number and other descriptions of any contract taxi one takes.” Recalled Samirawit. This was the moment the idea of RIDE was born through brainstorming among friends of her.Eventually Samrawit and one other person were the first to launch the service on December 17, 2014.

 “Thanks to God! We managed to realize our project despite lots of hurdles. I am very grateful to the former City Mayor Takele Umma who has shown me unreserved and profound support at that difficult moment.”

citizenservice quality  in public transportation system consists of

internal  and  external  factors  which  affect  the  commuter’s

perception  of  public  transport  services  (Middleton,  1998a).

According to Abane (1993) an  important  aspect  of commuting

is  the  quality  of  services  offered  by  transport  facilities.

However  public  transport services  including Taxi services  in

developing  countries  are  fraught  with  a  number  of  problems

which  compromise  the  quality  of  services.  Adarkwa  (1991)

asserts  that  public  transportation  in  Ghanaian  cities  is

characterized  by  over-crowdedness,  excessive  waiting  times,

and long and  inconsistent  travel  times  coupled  with  poor  and

unreliable  services.  Govender,  (2016)  also  laments  the

challenges  that  minibus  taxi  commuters face  in  South

RIDE is the first RIDE hailing and booking platform in Ethiopia. Passengers can call company’s dispatch center at 8294/taxi, or use RIDE FREE Passenger App to book/hail passengers next trip on the streets of Addis Ababa. NO surge pricing. Whether someone needs a ride to/from the airport, or a quick RIDE service to get there on time, RIDE is the fastest and safest option in the city. Tens of thousandsof vehicles are on standby, on every corner, to serve needs of passengers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Holidays.

Anyone who wants to visit different parts of Addis Ababa can pre-book a RIDE days ahead. A well-vetted RIDE member driver arrives outside one’s stay, on time for a pickup. Instead of waiting on a hotel shuttle to fill up, one can use RIDE Passenger App to get a cab in minutes from anywhere in the city.

Samrawit Fikru,
RIDE Founder and Manager

According to the Founder and Manager, in addition to company’s call center facility (8294), company’s service features encompass Passenger App/ online booking featuresandonline platform.

Many argue that the number of people using RIDE in the metropolis has been dramatically growing.  So many people choose this Uber-like transport provider due to various reasons.Customers typically get where they are going faster or cheaper than they would by taxis, partygoers can rely on being able to find available RIDE drivers through their apps late at night, and the combination of RIDE and expanding online grocery delivery is making it more practical to live without a car.

Moreover, Public transportation doesn’t run around the clock, and not all taxi companies run 24 hours a day. People who work or party late at night often use Uber to get home quickly when bus and metro train lines are shut down.Passengers also choose RIDE over other transportation methods for safety reasons.

Although types of vehicles and methods of regulation, hiring, dispatching, and negotiating payment differ significantly from country to country, many common characteristics exist. Disputes over whether ridesharing companies should be regulated as taxicabs resulted in some jurisdictions creating new regulations for these services.

With regards to this, RIDE has passed through several challenges that impeded its forward move. Concerned government institutions were not willing to react to the company’s proposal positively since there was no regulation or legal policy on such new innovation. Enabling policies and directives need to follow innovation; project ideas should first be examined whether they are important and timely before neglecting them due to absence of legal framework, according to Samrawit.

 “Government offices don’t welcome young innovators and entrepreneurs who come up with new business ideas; this has to be changed.” continued Samrawit, “thanks to God! We managed to realize our project despite lots of hurdles. I am very grateful to the former City Mayor Takele Umma who has shown me unreserved and profound support at that difficult moment.”

“Our ultimate aim is to introduce Ethiopian transport technology to the rest of the world like we do in athletics.”

The Manager lamented that her team members were compelled to work under difficult situation when their office was shut down by people from a government office. “Had I and my fellow team been fragile and weak, we would have left our country and gone into exile.” Samrawit noted.

Over the past few years RIDE has been receiving mostly constructive comments and feedbacks from its customers, and helps the company improve service quality and expand its scope very significantly to maximize their satisfactions.

In times of COVID 19 pandemic, RIDE has been mainly working on taking precaution measures against the spread of the virus to protect RIDE families as a whole. The company has managed to provide employees and staff member with appropriate and available sanitary materials, and provide trainings on how to prevent all from the pandemic.

RIDE also plans to stretch its wings to regional states, East Africa and gradually to European countries. In connection with this, Samrawit said, “Our ultimate aim is to introduce Ethiopian transport technology to the rest of the world like we do in athletics.”

This renowned taxi service provider RIDE, over the last few years alone, has dealt with various social responsibilities in order to contribute its share to the ongoing socioeconomic development in the city. This include participation in Green Legacy campaign spearheaded by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) by planting and taking care of over ten thousand tree and fruit seedlings on a land  the company has secured from the City Administration, supporting Sile Enat Children Care Center, and supplying hundreds of vehicles to the police during eves and holidays.

The company has also extended its support for COVID 19 prevention campaign being conducted by Addis Ababa City Administration, and donated pens and exercise books for school children in the city. Currently it is building 30 traffic police posts at different sites in the city, and plans to work more on personal development of the youth.

Samrawit strongly believes that Ethiopia is blessed with genius and innovative minds that really requires proper cultivation and support from all citizens. Nevertheless, there are challenges we all need to combat and create enabling environment for participation of the young in the nation’s development process.

Hence, she recommended that concerned financial institutions should finance vibrant and innovative ideas, expand the capacity, quality and coverage of ICT and reduce internet cost. Start-ups working on information communication technologies have to be supported through reduction or exemption of taxes so that the country could enjoy technologically-driven economy.

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