By Nishel Fernando
Uber introduces several security measures to ensure the safety of its driver partners in Sri Lanka, amid an increase in reports of attacks on the driver partners of the taxi-hailing apps in the country.
Uber introduced its global Safety Toolkit for its driver partners in Sri Lanka. It includes an emergency button for driver partners to have direct access to 119, the police control room and the option to set up five trusted contacts to share the trip details.
Over the past couple of months, there has been an increase of reports of the drivers of taxi-hailing apps being attacked or threatened by regular tuk-tuk drivers, in particular in touristic areas.
In addition, these tuk mafias have blocked access for the taxi-hailing apps to operate in some areas of the country.
“Some of these incidents prompted us to prioritise this feature launch sooner here, so that we are able to help the driver partners in case of any such rare incidents
These incidents happen rarely, once in a while.
We have been working with local law enforcement and other parties to resolve these issues,” Uber Sri Lanka Country Head Ankit Gupta told Mirror Business yesterday.
He highlighted that the access to 119 national emergency helpline with one tap would be particularly helpful for its driver partners to face such unexpected incidents.
“We strongly believe that it’s the law enforcement or national emergency helpline that has the ability to cater to such situation much faster and in a timely manner.
We believe that this functionality will go in a longer way helping us resolve these issues while providing the safety factor and comfort to the driver partners, enabling them to take on Uber trips anywhere in Sri Lanka,” he said.
In addition, Gupta noted that the ability to ‘share your trip’ with five trusted contacts would address the safety concerns of the family members and loved ones of the driver partners, with regard to female driver partners in particular.
“This helps their family and loved ones feel lot better with a large comfort level. Some of our women driver partners we have spoken to really appreciate this feature as their families keep a track of where they are driving,” he said.
In addition, Uber already has a safety response team, which is available 24 hours and all seven days of the week, to support the riders and driver partners.
However, Gupta opined that the national emergency helpline is much better positioned and provides the necessary support in emergencies requiring medical and law enforcement assistance.
Furthermore, Uber also introduced a speed limit indicator to ensure the driver partners do not exceed the speed limits of the country.
While reiterating its commitment to enhance the experience of driver partners to the level of riders, Gupta revealed that Uber Sri Lanka is extending its community guidelines for riders to provide a better experience for its driver base while they are on the Uber platform.
“We strongly believe that the respect is a two-way street. There should be a degree of mutual respect that both parties show to each other. The community guidelines have existed for driver partners for some time; it basically outlines what to do while on the app or during a trip,” he elaborated.
Uber Sri Lanka is also preparing to remove several riders who have received the lowest rating by driver partners due to their behaviour.
“Over the course of next few weeks, we will be sending notifications to these riders informing them about their low ratings and that we expect them to improve their ratings by changing the behaviour towards driver partners in a period of time. If they are unable to increase their ratings consistently over a period of time, we will be removing access to the Uber app for this set of riders,” he added.
Colombo was ranked as the 11th most important city in South Asia for Uber, where it has seen over 25,000 driver partners joining the Uber platform in the three-year period ended last December.
Uber Sri Lanka has seen an exponential growth in UberTuk since its launch in mid-2018 and Uber has identified Sri Lanka becoming the tuk capital of the Uber universe.
Most recently, Uber Sri Lanka launched its two-wheel product, UberMoto in Colombo 1-7.