When Uber and Careem launched their service in Pakistan we were more than delighted to use the affordable transport service. However, the rickshaw drivers were greatly affected by this venture as their customers preferred these online services and now to counter that the Rickshaw union is here with its own app named Awami Sawari.

An official event was held on 12th November by the Rickshaw Union President Majeed Ghauri in which he first introduced this app.

Majeed Ghauri during the launch said that the Rickshaw Union is also trying to provide drivers with android phones and they will also be trained on “how to use this Rickshaw app”. He further said that 500 drivers have already been registered with this app.

Mr. Ghauri added that this app is designed by professional people from a tech background. It is thoroughly tested and all the bugs have been removed before the launch of this app.

Though while trying to sign up for the app, we have were constantly met with failure.

He stated that the union not against the multi-national companies like Uber or Careem but it has a problem with an uneven playing field. He elaborated it by saying that Rickshaw drivers pay a lot of taxes and fines and still their passengers are taken away by these companies.

A local Rickshaw driver also agreed that 30% to 40% of their customers have been taken away by these ride-hailing companies. He said that if you are using a rented rickshaw then after the deduction of rickshaw rent, fuel services and service fee you are not really left with anything.

Uber and Careem vs. Rickshaws

But there is a flip side of every coin and in this case, we can see that before Uber and Careem Pakistanis didn’t have any reliable transport service.

The Rickshaw unions have protested against the cab-hailing companies on a number of occasions, calling the authorities to take steps against the changing tide.

It is a well-known fact that these drivers charge insane prices to their customers and have no fixed rate

A personal traveling out of the city can be duped by a rickshaw driver easily into paying more for traveling a small distance. This is a problem that Uber and Careem have solved in very less time.

UberAuto and Careem Tezz Rickshaw Services

uberAuto in Pakistan

Uber and Careem have their own rates; UberAuto charges Rs. 45 base fare and Rs. 5 per km. Careem Tezz, on the other hand, has a base fare of Rs.40 and charges Rs.6 per km. Both have more competitive rates than the rickshaw app which has a base rate of Rs.48 and charges Rs.9 per km.

We do not whether Awami Sawari will charge peak prices in the case of increased demand, something that can be a deal breaker for the new app.

Also, Uber takes 25% commission from its drivers while Careem takes 20%. Both companies also provide bonuses that can range from Rs.1000 to Rs.3000.

Awami Sawari will take 20% commission from Rickshaw drivers and will reward Rs.4000 per week to Rickshaw drivers on completing 60 rides per week 

Moreover, Careem and Uber have great versatility when it comes to providing rides for its customers. Careem has 4 classes Tezz, Go, Go+ and business class. While, Uber has 3 classes namely uberGo, uberAuto, and uberX. This gives people an option to choose from while keeping their budget intact.

Although Pakistani Government is taking steps to regulate Uber and Careem they continue to attract customers towards them by promoting and giving special discounts such as in August Careem reduced its fares by 16% in Islamabad.

Another Day, Another Transport App

We should also consider that this is not the first transport after Uber and Careem that is available in the market. Many apps such as Bykea (bike service), Paxi, Safr, etc. have been launched but they are not as popular among the masses as Uber and Careem.

Travly, a famous startup that gained a lot of investment and even partnered with TPL Maps has also closed up shop. In this scenario, should we really build high hopes with Awami Sawari?

However, on the bright side, we should appreciate the fact that the rickshaw drivers are finally embracing technology and incorporating it into their business. If this app becomes successful, it will save rickshaw drivers from the hassle of looking for customers all day long, saving them time and money. Also, customers will have to pay a fixed rate calculated by the app which will be a big relief.

Will Awami Sawari Survive?

Time will be the judge of that but we are excited to see how the Rickshaw union will differentiate its app from Uber and Careem and how they will attract their customer base while competing with their competitive fares.