Step taken to stop the spread of coronavirus
Ride-hailing services are also suspending their operations as Pakistan continues to grapple with the outbreak of the coronavirus. The country has reported 287 cases so far.
Schools, wedding halls and many flea markets have already been closed and many offices have allowed their employees to work from their homes to stop the spread of the virus.
SAMAA Digital got in touch with different ride-hailing services and talked to them about the measures they have taken to fight the pandemic.
Airlift, an app that allows people to book rides on buses and vans, announced on Wednesday that it is suspending its operations in Karachi and Lahore till April 6.
In a statement on social media, they said that they have taken the step to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
The rides will continue as planned on Wednesday while those who had booked their rides in advance from Wednesday onwards will be refunded.
Careem, in response to the pandemic, has decided to temporarily suspend its bus service on the government’s instructions. They, however, have decided to continue their other services across Pakistan.
The safety and well-being of all those who use Careem is a top priority for us, said the company’s spokesperson in a statement. “Our COVID-19 response team is closely monitoring and following the guidelines of the World Health Organization and are in touch with local government and public health authorities for any latest developments,” the statement added.
“We have rolled out a set of instructions, for both our captains and riders, and do not feel the suspension of the service is necessary,” said Careem’s communication head.
They, however, confirmed a slump in their demand as many restaurants have been closed and office employees working from home.
SWVL, another ride-hailing service, said that it has taken measures to avoid the spread of the virus.
“We have installed hand-sanitisers in all of our buses,” said SWVL General Manager Shahzeb Memon. “We have cut down our number of buses to half and also reduced the capacity.”
SWVL says it used to cater to around 70,000 commuters per across Pakistan but now it will be half of it. The step is to make sure our commuters have enough space with the least chance of close interaction, Memon said.
Bykea confirmed they experienced a 15% slump in their demand. “We have not taken any operational steps because our service has the least chance of adding to the spread,” said PR Manager Danish Khalid.
“We will still have business with informal rides (where their partners can reach out to people on the roads, for the rides) and our delivery services with the closure of restaurants,” he remarked.
We are always working to help ensure the safety of everyone on the Uber platform continue to be concerned by the ongoing spread of coronavirus, said Uber’s Hyder Bilgrami.
He said Uber has dedicated a global team of operations, security and safety executives, guided by the advice of a consulting public health expert, working to respond as needed in each market where the service operates around the world.
“We remain in close contact with local authorities and will continue to follow their recommendations,” Bilgrami’s statement read.
Local bus services
Other than the digital ride-hailing services, bus transport services of Karachi have confirmed they are neither suspending their operations nor are they cutting down their services.
“We are proud of our services and they will not be suspended,” said Irshad Bukhari, a representative of the transport association of Karachi.