Uber, the global car hire service that also provides jobs to residents, has finally launched in Lahore, Pakistan. While the company has every intention of offering its services beyond Lahore, that’s where it will concentrate its efforts.

Uber Paksitan

Uber teased it, now it’s in Lahore

Last year saw Uber suggesting that it was interested in the Pakistan market. Frankly, it would be quite foolish to ignore the 6th-most populous nation on Earth with a population somewhere around 170 million. But now it’s official and the waiting is over for residents of Lahore looking for another transportation alternative.

The launch was announced earlier today and the international launch director explained why Uber was concentrating on Lahore first.

“We’re extremely excited to be here, there’s huge potential in this market and people have welcomed us with open arms,” explained director Loic Amado.

“Twenty per cent of all eCommerce transactions happen in Lahore, which is why we’re here first. We’re looking forward to filling a gap in the existing transportation network,” he continued.

While Karachi will certainly see Uber operations there in the future, Lahore residents will be happy to know that Uber is there for them right now. Islamabad and its affluence will also likely see the service before the end of the year.

Potential drivers are excited as well

In addition to the thousands that the company expects to use the service within weeks, Loic pointed out that Lahore residents are also interested in working for the company. Uber has already received thousands of applications from both private car owners as well as car rental agencies that would like to put their fleets to work when they are not rented.

An application is certainly not enough to get a job and with Uber having seen a spate of complaints about drivers all over the world including criminal charges brought against many; the company takes background checks seriously. In addition to background checks, drivers will be also have to take a sexual harassment seminar before beginning work. Additionally, drivers’ car registration, licenses, and police registration will be checked thoroughly.

“I often compare it to cities like Cairo where we’re generating 2,000 job opportunities a month. We can achieve that very soon in Lahore and the rest of Pakistan as well,” adds Loic.

While incidents have occurred all over the world, the sexual assault of an Indian Uber passenger recently weighs heavy on the mind of the company and passenger alike.

“We’re in conversation with local law enforcement agencies and are open to developing procedures, so that if something happens they can be involved immediately. We’ve developed something similar in India as well by working with local governments,” promised Loic

Fares and cash payment

“The interest has been incredible in Lahore, so we are extremely excited to be launching here first. Anyone can now enjoy an affordable, reliable and safe ride at the push of a button thanks to uberGO”, said Loic during his briefing at the event that will see drivers setting out at 12PM on Thursday.

Uber is launching in Pakistan with the option of paying by both cash or credit/debit card, a first for the company. While Uber does accept cash in India, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, this option was made available after the launch of the service once Uber realized there was a demand.

Cash is still king in Pakistan, and it would have been silly to launch any differently. The company also announced that mobile payments and wallets would be accepted but the company didn’t specify when and was more interested in just getting started.

Pricing is surprisingly affordable and should see the service, whose app has already been downloaded by thousands, hit the roads with great effect beginning in a few short hours.

  • Base Fare: 100 PKR
  • Cancellation: 150 PKR
  • Minimum Fare: 150 PKR
  • Per KM: 13.7 PKR
  • Per minute: 3.7 PKR

So, if you use your mobile to hire a car with the intention of going to some to a destination 10 kilometers away, but traffic might make it a 30 minute drive passengers will be looking at the following math.

  • Base Fare: Rs. 100
  • Per KM charge: Rs. 13.7 x 10 = Rs. 137
  • Per Minute Charge:: Rs. 3.7 x 30 = 111
  • Total Estimated Charge: Rs. 100 + Rs. 137 + Rs. 111 = Rs. 348

That works out to about $3.32 (USD) for those reading this that might not be familiar with the exchange rate.

At present, the Lahore roll-out only includes UberGo services with the UberBlack and UberLux along with other plans like shared ride options and food delivery coming later.

For now, users will also be limited to requesting a car for immediate departure with Uber hoping to meet its goal of a five minute arrival time.

“The idea is to provide a completely new way of getting around,” says Loic.