Uber to introduce expressway option for users


A section of the expressway. NMG PHOTO

Taxi-hailing firm Uber is piloting two features that will allow riders to use Nairobi Expressway and allow drivers select locations where they want to operate or drop passengers.

The ride-hailing app will allow users to pick the old road or the expressway. The toll charges will be passed to the passengers and reflected on their fares.

Uber head of East Africa Mr Imran Manji said the tool is expected to be ready in a month and they are mostly targeting riders looking for quick trips to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and those avoiding heavy traffic along the road that links Mlolongo to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.  

‘’The idea is when you switch on the app and say you want to go to let’s say from Riverside to JKIA, the app recognises that you could use the Expressway and gives you the option to use tolls... If you use the toll feature, it will match you with a driver who has the toll system in their app to make it a seamless service,’’ Mr Manji said.

Uber drivers will install the electronic toll collection (ETC), allowing toll points to be electronically deducted through a pre-installed on-board unit device for faster payment.

Motorists are paying between Sh121 ($1.04) and Sh1,823 ($15.55) to use the toll road being operated by Moja Expressway, a subsidiary of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).

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The company will also introduce a new feature allowing drivers to select the routes to operate.

“We will try and match them (drivers) with a ride going on route or vicinity of where they want to go,” Mr Manji said.

The new feature will benefit drivers who have other jobs and would want to operate close to their offices or home.

“This is such an amazing feature for somebody working in the office and they drive an Uber for one or two hours to supplement their income. I think it is going to be a hugely popular feature once we get it done,” he added.  

Uber is also betting on the feature to reduce the chances of driving without a passenger.

The innovations are part of plans by the Dutch online taxi company to expand into the region amid stiff competition.

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