Global ride-hailing firm Uber, on Friday, launched a pilot test of a boat service in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos to attract commuters seeking to avoid the city’s notoriously congested roads.
Uber’s chief business officer in June said the company planned to launch the service to carry some of the city’s 20 million people around town. Lagos is built on a lagoon.
The waterway service, UberBOAT, is operated in partnership with local boat operator Texas Connection Ferries and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), said the ride-hailing firm.
“This initiative is aimed at providing commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts,” Uber said in a statement.
The pilot phase will operate on weekdays from 0700 GMT to 1600 GMT on a fixed route between two locations in the city.
Passengers will be charged a flat fare of 500 naira ($1.39) per trip, compared with about 300 naira by minibus for a similar journey in the commercial hub of the West African country where most people live on less than $2 a day.
At a press conference on Friday, Uber officials said there would be four trips a day, carrying up to 35 people on a boat, during the two-week pilot.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos state, said the Uber boat service, and the use of waterways in general, were part of a raft of initiatives aimed at easing congestion that include a program of road repairs.
“We want ferries that carry 60 to 80 people,” he said, referring to his hopes for the future use of waterways, on Thursday at a forum with businesses.
The combination of population growth and congestion has made Nigeria, and more broadly West Africa, attractive to foreign transport companies.