Uber SA launches motorbike courier service

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Uber SA has launched an on-demand delivery service, in a move that will see the ride-hailing firm get a piece of SA’s courier market pie.

The new motorbike service, Uber Connect, allows users to send packages to one another, facilitated by the Uber app, to cities where it operates around SA.

While lockdown restrictions have been eased in level two, social distancing is still imperative, as SA braces for a likely second wave of infections. In light of this, Uber says it aims to keep users connected while encouraging social distancing among family members and peers.

The new service, which Uber says is cost-effective, is available from today, with the upfront price based on a best estimate of time and distance being applied to any delivery trip.The booking fee is R10, while users pay R5.45per kilometre, with a minimum fare of R25.

The service comes four months after Uber launched Uber Direct, which allows businesses such as restaurants, supermarkets and pharmacies to deliver their products to customers. The Uber service was established to compete with Bolt’s Business Delivery offering.

In recent months, SA’s courier industry has been struggling to cope with the high demand and disruptions to their supply chains amid the e-commerce boom, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some e-commerce players told ITWeb they have been forced to hire third-party courier services, to scale up amid the increase inonline orders.

Uber has an ecosystem of motorbike delivery partner drivers which it leverages for its Uber Eats and Uber Direct delivery services.

“We have been working tirelessly to find innovative ways to leverage our technology to make it easier than ever to send packages or items while unlocking additional earning opportunities for drivers on our platform,” says Frans Hiemstra, GM for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Uber is available in 16 cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. In SA, it operates in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and East London.

Whether it is used by siblings returning forgotten clothing items to each other, or a mother sending nappies to a friend who has run out, users can send any delivery items by requesting “Uber Connect” through the Uber app, select “connect” and request a delivery. They then reply to the message asking for the recipient’s name, delivery and any special delivery instructions for the driver partner.

“We're excited to see the creative ways that users will continue to do their part by staying home, but using technology to stay connected,” notes Hiemstra.

Uber says safety remains a top priority and Uber Connect follows all relevant hygiene and safety protocols. These include the requirement of masks for all drivers, as well as the completion of a safety checklist, which reminds drivers to wash their hands and sanitise their relevant delivery bags.

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