A Safeboda rider in Kampala. While ride-hailing services can be convenient for shorter trips, they can also be more expensive in the long run. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI


Driving or ride hailing: Which one is cheaper?

What you need to know:

If you think you will save money by taking a cab, you might want to know that that is not the case anymore. Ride-hailing services actually cost more than owning a car.

In an era where people are always on the go, many are looking out for fast solutions for everything. It ranges from fast food, to fast money-making schemes. With the need to get from place to place quickly, ride-hailing seems like the available fast solution.

According to the Bolt website, ride-hailing refers to the act in which a customer uses an app to hire a personal driver to take them wherever they need to go.      
“The vehicle is exclusive to the customer and is not shared with other riders, nor does it make multiple stops (unless requested). It allows the customer to go from point A to point B without any detours along the way,” the site reads in part. 

A woman uses a Safe boda app. Some people prefer using ride-hailing services even when they own a car. PHOTO/ MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Some of the ride-hailing apps in Uganda include Uber, Bolt, SafeBoda, easy matatu, Mondo Ride, Dial Jack, Lolo Ride, and Little Ride. That is not forgetting the ordinary special hire man if you happen to have their contact.
While these give you the comfort a taxi will never afford you such as picking you from where you are to your desired stop with little or no discomfort, would you trade them for your car?

Ms Bridget Kiwanuka loves the idea of ride-hailing, so much so that although she has a car and is a competent driver, she prefers using Uber. 

“Ride-hailing means I do not have to think about car maintenance, the cost of fuel vs the returns or even the car’s security. I also get the opportunity to catch up on some work during the drive as well as phone calls which I would never do were I the one behind the wheel,” she says.

Owing to her preference, Ms Kiwanuka’s car is rotting away in the compound. “I cannot do much inasmuch as the loss hurts because I was told the car has low resale value. While I could have sold it off then, I preferred to look at it then get peanuts,” she says.

“My husband and I had also held that notion with children studying across town and tight schedules. At first, the thought of everyone getting dropped at their station without the discomfort of moving from one side of town to the next was thrilling. We hoped into the same car and the rationale was that this  would cut costs. While reviewing the week’s expenses, the bill was unfathomable; the cumulative cost had left a ‘hole in our pockets’. It was a time to count our blessings of having a car rather than frown at the responsibilities of driving across town,” she explains.

Expensive affair
Mr Bryan Ssemanda of Bryan Naturals, says ride-hailing becomes expensive if you can afford a car. 
“I have done drive-hailing and noticed that the fee was equivalent to the cost of fuel to the same place. The irony is that I would have remained with some fuel for the next journey had I fueled my car instead,” he says. 
Mr Ssemanda adds that he had also thought that the ride-hailing boda-boda app would be cheaper seeing that they are timely and organised compared to ordinary boda-bodas. 

“The money paid out is not small and the discomfort therein did not make it worthwhile when compared to sticking to driving my car,” he says.

While car maintenance may get expensive, it is not done every day.

“In regards to part replacement which comes with, say thuggery and accidents while parked, that one should look out for safe parking spaces,” he says.
Convenience is very crucial to Irene Kajubi, an interior designer, who prefers driving her car. 

“I can drive out whenever I wish without having to wonder if I will find a safe cab.  Additionally, I do not have to deal with the waiting time after placing the cab request. While maintenance may be tricky, it is part of owning a car and cannot stand in the way of the priceless convenience,” she says. 

Jane Zirirana Nakiryowa, a florist, loves being in control of her life. But ride-hailing means being at the mercy of someone. 
“The driver will not drive the way I do. Depending on whether they are slow or fast, I will continually be ‘stepping’ on the pad on behalf of the driver which ‘eats’ at my nerve. Therefore, I prefer driving my car,” she says.

Even when driving long distances, Ms Nakiryowa can only hand over that power to someone she is familiar with. 
While drive-hailing takes the burden of car maintenance off the passenger, Ms Nakiryowa also wants to know that the car she is riding in is in good mechanical condition. 

Pros of ride-hailing
For Mr Ssemanda, his merchandise is bulky and therefore, a cab would come in handy for transportation.

A customer goes through the procedure of requesting for an Uber rider in Kampala. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

For Ms Nakiryowa, it is in those instances where she needs to drive out of home alongside a family member that is going in the opposite direction. 

“I would hail a ride for them. The other instance would be to pick someone from the airport if my hands are full,” she says. It also works when she must go to town because she then hands the stress of driving on Kampala roads to someone else.