As part of its expansion plans into Africa, global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies launched a pilot test of their taxi boat service on Friday in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub.
To attract customers who want to avoid the city’s frequently congested roads, Uber will operate a two-week pilot phase of the boat service in conjunction with the Lagos State Water Authority (LASWA) and local boat operators, Texas Connection Ferries.
“We are aware of the man hours and productivity that are lost every day due to vehicular traffic in Lagos state and are looking at ways to provide commuters with an easy and affordable way to get in and out of the city’s business districts,” said Lola Kassim, Uber’s general manager for West Africa, in a statement.
The launch of the UberBOAT service comes four months after Uber’s global head of business development, Brookes Entwistle, said the company was looking to gain more ground on the continent.
The service will be available only on weekdays for the next two weeks and will cost 500 naira ($1.30) per trip.
The boats will move four times during the day between the Ikorodu Ferry Terminal, northeast of Lagos, and the Falomo Cowries Terminal, according to the Uber statement.
Lagos has an estimated population of about 22 million people and counting, more than double London or New York’s tally. One study said commuters in Lagos an average of 30 hours a week stuck in traffic.
Its large population combined with frequent traffic congestion has made it important to develop new modes of transport like UberBOAT, said Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a statement.
“The last couple of years have seen the Lagos State Government commit to building up infrastructure that supports multi-modal transportation, which includes water transport,” he said. “We collaborated with Uber on this because of the shared vision to utilize the waterways more as a means of decongesting the city,” he said in the statement.
This is not Uber’s first service outside vehicle ride-sharing. In January, it launched taxi boats in Mumbai, India.