Inside Port Harcourt’s On-demand Taxi Service: A Personal Review

The boom in technology has given rise to several tools and solutions available for consumers ease. Riding on the technological wave, the on-demand, (also known as peer-to-peer rental economy, crowd-based capitalism or sharing economy) has disrupted entire industries and given rise to several billion dollar companies.

Ride sharing which is a major pillar of the on-demand economy, has successfully disrupted the transport sector.

With an annual revenue growth rate of 16.3% resulting in US$109,050 million in market volume, this is not an industry to ignore.

Expectedly, indigenous companies are looking to get a piece of the pie by creating ride sharing apps for specific cities.

This is a personal review of the existing functional cab hailing services in Port Harcourt.

My search revealed services like Pamdrive, Ceetytaxi, Cabby.ng and Kini taxi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t download the Cabby.ng app as I kept having OTP (one-time password) issues and I received an error message for Kini taxi “you are not allowed to download this app in your location”.

So I’m eventually reviewing just Ceetytaxi and Pamdrive. Here goes

1. Pamdrive

Pamdrive is the oldest and most popular (going by social media following) on-demand cab service in Port Harcourt.

One of the things I love about Pamdrive is that they have managed to appeal across audiences by having multiple booking systems. Bookings can be done via their mobile app, WhatsApp or call-in.

There’s an option for (almost) everyone.
Any reason not to download one more app on my phone is a welcome development for me, so I frequently use the WhatsApp option. The process is as seamless as chatting with a friend.

I give my booking details and within a few minutes I get my ride option. This day, I’m in GRA and the closest driver is on Stadium road. I accept the ride and he arrives in 10 minutes.

The con of using the whatsapp platform is you’re not given any ETA; you’d have to take calculated guesses as to when you’re ride would arrive.

The call-in platform is pretty much the same, only that you’re actually using voice calls. The app platform, just recently got an upgrade and the new features are amazing.

I download the app and sign up. Unlike other cab apps, I don’t have to manually enter my OTP as the Pamdrive automatically reads it from my message box. Love this! (goodbye privacy)

You can save the address of frequent place like home and work to avoid always inputting your details when you need a ride.

I input my location and book the ride. Driver is 7 minutes away (I believe wait times are less because they have more drivers on their platform). My ride is a Honda (?) Element. Nice driver. Fare is N980, from GRA to Old GRA. Done and dusted.

App features: 4/5 (just because I’m a strict teacher lol)
Booking experience: 4/5 (across all options)
Driver: 3.5/5
Ride: 5/5
Price: 4/5 (because street taxi is still cheaper)
Timeliness: 4/5

2. Ceetytaxi:

Launched in July 2017, booking option is oby via the mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices. Downloading the app was easy peasy but I spent almost 20 minutes trying to maneuver the booking process. While trying to enter my destination, I could only see Indian locations. Weird. My location ‘Elekahia’ was not found. I gave up and decided to book the ride without a destination. Thankfully there was a ‘skip drop location’ button.

The ETA is 28 minutes and while I’m contemplating canceling the ride because its a long wait, the driver calls. He sounds pleasant and tries to get the full booking details (destination). I complain that 28 minutes is too long to wait as I’m in a hurry and he goes on to say he would actually take longer than the ETA because of the traffic situation. I am pleased with his honesty, thank him and cancel the ride.
I do another booking on my way home. ETA is 27 minutes, I’m not in a hurry so I wait. I’m doing some research on my phone and didn’t realize that the driver is late. He arrives 10 minutes later than the ETA.

The ride is a clean Toyota and my bill from Elekahia to Old GRA is N1,185 – quite pricey- but then again their fare chart shows a percentage increase in fares from 4pm upwards and a further increase from 10pm.

App features: 2.5/5 (destination location caused this)
Booking experience: 3/5
Ride: 4/5
Driver: 4.5/5
Price: 3/5
Timeliness: 1/5

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Akelachi Kejeh

I'm interested in telling the story of African tech and startups. I also host a tech and startup radio show titled Rivers of Unicorns