September 28, 2022

Sight Magazine – Wow! : Nigerian carpooling app aims to put women at ease

Abuja, Nigeria

Hauwa Shakir puts the finishing touches on an elegant lilac and gray dress, grabs her handbag and climbs into a gray Toyota Corolla outside her house in the outskirts of central Abuja.

Shakir, 31, is one of thousands of Nigerians who enjoy commuting using mobile apps, but there is something unusual about his car: a female driver. She said the trip on HerRyde, a ride-sharing app with all-female drivers that launched in August, put her at ease.

“I’ve had scary experiences with the other rides,” the fashion designer and lawyer told Reuters.

Chichi, a member of HerRyde, an all-female ridesharing app, smiles as she drives off in her car in Abuja, Nigeria on September 4. PHOTO: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde.

On her way to a nearby mall, she happily taps her phone. Some male drivers, she said, chatted inappropriately or even made her feel like they might attack her.

HerRyde was launched with 10 drivers and made around 500 trips in its first month in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Its founders plan to expand elsewhere in Nigeria.

“We don’t want cases where women have to be on guard or on edge when using ride-sharing services.”

– HerRyde co-founder Monsurah Alli-Oluwafuyi.

Nigeria does not have official statistics on sexual assaults on ride-sharing apps, but local media are full of stories of sexual assaults, robberies or harassment of female passengers and drivers.

Uber and Lyft say they have received thousands of reports of sexual assault linked to billions of rides in the United States. Uber said drivers accounted for about half of those charged, but Lyft did not disclose the share of incidents that resulted in driver injuries.

HerRyde co-founder Monsurah Alli-Oluwafuyi, 30, said those stories prompted the launch of the business.

“We don’t want instances where women have to be on guard or on edge when using ride-sharing services,” she said. HerRyde will also expand opportunities for female drivers, she said.

Nigeria Abuja HerRyde2

Members of HerRyde, an all-female ridesharing app, pose in front of a car outside HerRyde’s office in Abuja, Nigeria on September 4. PHOTO: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

Adetutu Patricia Oni, a mother-of-two who drove on ride-sharing apps for three years, said HerRyde has improved her job because drivers are vetted and know what to expect.

“We are often discriminated against,” she said. “Like when you have a request from a male customer, the male tends to cancel the ride because he doesn’t want to ride with you as a female.”