Uber, the world’s largest on-demand ride-sharing company, launched its service in capital Dhaka nearly three years back with many promises to bring about a change in commuting experience, but its service quality is falling gradually due to poor management and lack of monitoring by the authorities concerned, say experts.
They also said Uber is failing to ensure quality service as the company has apparently compromised with Dhaka’s bad traffic culture ignoring its brand value and international service standard.As a result, various complaints like registering unfit and substandard vehicles, refusing passengers to go to their desired destination, telling them to cancel trip after wasting time, misbehaving with passengers, reckless driving and charging extra fare and violating traffic rules are growing against Uber and its driver partners.
On August 22, MM Golam Shawkat filed a General Diary (GD) with Darussalam Police Station against a driver-partner of Uber for not retuning his briefcase, having a cash of Tk, 1,73,000 and important documents, as he forgot to take it while getting off the vehicle.
Talking to UNB, Shawkat, a former upazila chairman of Rajbari’s Baliakandi, said he still did not get back his cash and valuables.
SI Mahbubur Rahman of Darus Salam Police Station, who has been investigation the matter, told UNB that they still could not track down the driver as they did not get quick response from the Uber authorities.
“I tried several times to contact the driver, but got his cellphone switched off. Then, I contacted Uber’s Uttara office and sought particular details of the driver, but I yet to get that,” he added.
Uber launched on-demand ridesharing service in Dhaka on November 22, 2016. Talking to UNB recently, many users of the Uber voiced frustration that the company is unable to ensure quality service as it is following the footsteps of local ridesharing companies.Abdul Aziz, a private company employee, said some Uber vehicles are not enough fit for ride-sharing which go out of order halfway through while drivers sometimes refused to run the AC.
Mahbub Alam, a private university student, said Uber has made communication easier, but the company is gradually losing its image due to bad attitude of its driver-partners.
Tasmin Sultan, a housewife, said most drivers lack navigation skills which cause problem to commuters. ”Some drivers also misbehave with passengers and demands extra money. They behave like traditional drivers.”
Contacted, urban expert Professor Nazrul Islam said, “We expect quality and international-standard service from Uber. Initially, the company’s service was good, but it has gradually deteriorated. We often heard many allegations from the users about the frustrating services of the company.”
He said most drivers of the company are not trained enough to maintain the quality service while many of them misbehave with customers showing their traditional attitude. “The company should properly train its driver partners, strengthen its monitoring system and take steps for improving their behavior and attitude through motivation and punitive action.”
Nazrul said Uber’s fares often fluctuate during bad weather or rush hours which contribute to reducing customers’ confidence in the company.
He said the government should strongly monitor the activities of the ridesharing companies to force them to ensure better services to commuters.
Urban expert Iqbal Habib said Uber’s service quality has declined as it compromise with the culture in the country’s transport sector since the government has no monitoring and control on the ridesharing companies.
“When Uber authorities could realise that it’s possible to do anything as per their whims in Bangladesh, they started concentrating on only making money instead of ensuring quality services. So, the government must establish its control over the ridesharing companies by enforcing laws so that commuters can avail themselves of quality services from them,” he observed.
Habib also said the government should fix how many vehicles a ridesharing company can register under its apps.
Zulquar Quazi Islam, Lead, Uber Bangladesh, said, they usually register the vehicles which government allows to ply roads. “But, we’ve a mechanism to identify the poor quality vehicles and keep those out of our platform.”
He said they now register the vehicles of models from 1992 to onwards and will gradually improve the models.
Zulquar admitted that they still could not ensure international-standard services, but they are trying to improve it.
“We arrange training for our drive- partners to change their attitude and behaviour. We also contact them if we get complaints and try to motivate them. But those who don’t change their behaviour they will be forced to come out of the platform,” he added.