Interviews

COVID-19: Plentywaka Boss Discuss the Pandemic Impact on the Transport Sector

Plentywaka - cfamedia

Following the closure of their services in April due to COVID-19, Plentywaka, the tech-driven bus hailing company, officially resumed service in Lagos on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

With the Nigerian government placing new guidelines on transport companies to curtail the spread of the virus, the startup has made numerous changes to their operations to comply with the new changes.

We caught up with Johnny Enagwolor, MD and Co-Founder at Plentywaka about how COVID-19 will affect the transport sector going forward.

Will technology give leverage to tech-driven ride-hailing over traditional vehicles?

Technology definitely gives the ride-hailing sector a competitive advantage over traditional vehicles, especially in terms of the convenience provided to customers.

“For example, at Plentywaka, our WakaPurse allows users to pay for rides before they travel either with the Scan-to-ride feature or via the app.

This is different from what a regular commuter will get riding around Lagos with the yellow buses.”

Equally, there are times you won’t be able to secure a seat on a normal bus but due to technology, our commuters don’t have these worries. Our app allows them to book their seat beforehand thereby planning their trips without hustle.

There’s also a feature that allows our passengers to track when their bus journey in real-time through our app, which holds another advantage over traditional services.

Technology is allowing the ride-hailing sector to take customer service to a new level.

On Nigerians embracing tech-driven buses on the long run

We’re hopeful that the demand for our services will remain intact and continue to grow as we expand to new routes.

Nigerians are emerging from the pandemic seeking more assurances on safer travel and that’s something we’ve always had a strong track record on.

With this in mind, we’re delivering the type of services they’re looking for. Before the lockdown started, we already had our own safety measures in place and have also moved swiftly to implement the Lagos State government’s safety directives.

“We want to make sure that Nigerians will continue to enjoy our services because we back up our claims about safety with robust measures.

If we continue to do this, there’s no reason why we can’t retain the level of interest we had from commuters before COVID-19.”

A potential partnership with the FG, if tech-driven buses prove to be safe in this pandemic

During this period, the collaboration will be key to ensuring the safety of commuters and we’re happy to assist in any way possible.

In the meantime, our focus will be on complying with directives of the states we operate in and right now, this means doing all we can with the Lagos state government regarding the curfew times and implementing our own safety measures.

Passengers reaction to a 20-25% increase in fares

We are sure this will apply to all forms of transportation at this time and not just Plentywaka and it’s important to note that as the current situation normalizes, our plan is to reverse this price rise.

Our customers shouldn’t have to experience a reduction in quality so we took this step to maintain the standard of our services whilst managing our operating costs.

On how PlentyWaka will ensure riders comply with safety regulations

Prior to kickstarting our operations, we sent out our safety measures and guidelines to everyone via the different communication channels we have.

For the safety of everyone on board, riders with visible signs of illness will not be allowed on our buses, and riders will be advised to wear their face masks before stepping into the buses.

Before the lockdown started, we had placed hand sanitizers on all buses which were used upon boarding and this will be continued.

All buses were cleaned and fumigated to ensure that they were germ and virus free.

New policies of Plentywaka
  • The new service includes a reduced capacity and transporting schedule of [06:00][18:00], commuting only 8 riders (passengers) on the 14 seater buses and 16 riders on the 28 seater buses.
  • A temporary increase in fares of between 20-25% has been applied to manage the limited service being offered.
  • Plentywaka’s preventative measures at the beginning of the pandemic in Lagos (i.e. placing hand sanitizers on buses upon boarding) will be continued. Disinfectant wipes and towels will also be used to clean the seats at regular intervals and in preparation for the following days service.
  • Plentywaka pilots (drivers) and vehicle assistants have been instructed to wear face masks and gloves at all times. Riders will be encouraged to do the same.
  • While in transit, air conditioning will be turned off and riders with visible signs of illness will not be allowed on board.

Featured Image: Johnny Enagwolor, MD and Co-Founder, Plentywaka


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About the author

Dare Afolabi

Technology rules the world, that's why I love writing about it

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