Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe
Sri Lankans these days are like madly launching taxi apps. Even the government has entered into the industry whereas a large number of taxi apps are competing for taxi commuters in Colombo city.
Sri Lanka Telecom, a telecommunication company with majority stakes belonging to the government, is one of the new entrants to the market with its Muv app. SLT introduces its Muv App as a business ‘Focused on our mission to build the national economy, not on building global empires’.
In its wording, SLT Muv targets global Uber app which is highly competitive in Colombo with its latest introduction Uber Eats. Uber Eats is the most popular food delivery services among the eaters in Colombo with a battalion of self-employed youth deliverers of food on motorcycles. It is far ahead of its closest competitor Pick Me Eats and easily dominated the private deliverers that existed before its arrival.
Pick Me is a highly successful and innovative local competitor to Uber but it was hit recently with the anti-Muslim sentiments in the society. Pick Me recently acquired Yamu.lk with the hope of being more competitive in the market of food delivery.
AvantTaxi is a taxi service belonged to the controversial Avant Guard Company owned by Nissanka Senadhipathi which initially operated in the field of maritime security. It propagates that the taxis are driven by former war heroes.
People gossiped YOGO belonged to Yoshitha Rajapakse, the youngest son of former President Mahinda Rajapakse when it was launched but YOGO actually belongs to Link Lanka which sells taxi meters in Sri Lanka.
Old players like Kangaroo Cabs which were initially caller responsive telephone services have now moved into apps. Kangaroo which owns a wide range of its own and outsourced cars recently further expanded its fleet with the introduction of go-green fully electric cars.
There are many other services like Tuk-Tuk, Budget Taxi, Fair Taxi, Home Taxi, Online Cabs, Ayubowan Taxi, TaxiMe, Shree Taxi, YouCab, Ride Taxi, TaxiGo, Hello Cabs, Vasi Taxi etc. which now have app-based service delivery.
However, most of these app-based taxi services are limited to Colombo district and parts of Kalutara and Gampaha districts. They don’t properly cover at least the Western Province. Few services are available in major cities like Kandy, Galle and Jaffna. Although one may misunderstand that the number of apps are more than the number of taxis available, still there is market in the country outside of Colombo city limits to grow.