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App-based taxi services accelerating in Vietnam

2017-03-02 17:26:10   By:chinadaily    Hits:


"The job is not too tough and brings me a rather good income," Dao Van Dung, a 23-year-old citizen in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi, told Xinhua about his job as a motorbike taxi driver using the ride-hailing app Grab. 

A new working day for Dung starts at 7:00 am local time and usually ends at midnight. Dung graduated from university one year ago but failed to find a job. Thanks to a friend, Dung registered and became a GrabBike taxi driver in the city.

"Excluding costs of petroleum, cell phone fees and commission, I pocket between 200,000-300,000 Vietnamese dong (8.97-13.45 US dollars) a day," Dung told Xinhua.

Dung is among hundreds of GrabBike taxi drivers operating in Hanoi these days. In order to join the GrabBike drivers' community, a potential candidate needs a motorbike, a smart phone with 3G internet connection, and some essential documents. 

After finishing registration procedures, the bikers will be provided with helmets, uniform jackets, raincoats, masks and can start working with GrabBike "within 30 minutes" after registering, said the largest local motorbike taxi hailing and booking service available on smart phones.

According to Dung, working full-time for Grab brings him a monthly salary between 8 million-10 million Vietnamese dong (358-448 US dollars), which is a desirable income compared to the average income of local people, especially unskilled workers in Vietnam.

In addition, Dung has the chance to be offered weekly or monthly bonuses if he works efficiently, said the taxi driver.

Under such a simple registration process, almost anyone with a motorbike and a smart phone can become a GrabBike driver. In fact, GrabBike drivers come from all walks of life including students, unskilled workers, and office workers among others.

Grab is just one survive provided by a technology company that offers wide range of ride-hailing and logistics services through its app in the Southeast Asia area, specifically Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Echoing Dung, Nguyen Van Xuan, a third-year university student, has just become a GrabBike taxi driver and has been very excited about his new job.

"When I was a third-year student, all my living and studying fees were provided by my family. But now, I can afford all those costs on my own thanks to GrabBike," Xuan said.

"One day, I managed to deliver three people. The other day, I had even more customers and at the weekends, I will run to the city center to find more customers."

"Thanks to the job, I now have earned money to pay for my house rent and food, so that my parents can be less burdened," said the young man.

However, the roads are not all covered with roses, and there are a few thorns. Xuan said high-tech motorbike taxi drivers like him are wary about clashing with "old-age" traditional motorbike drivers.

"I cannot forget the time I went to Dong Xuan market in downtown Hanoi to work. When I stopped my motorcycle there, another motorbike taxi driver came up to me and reminded me that this is their 'turf' and I am not allowed to work here," Xuan told Xinhua.

Similarly, Dung encountered another confrontational incident with traditional motorbike taxi drivers.

"I went to Noi Bai International Airport to work. As soon as they noticed me in my green uniform, the other drivers blocked me in and asked me to leave the place. Since then, I have never returned to the airport," said Dung.

The new app service has received fierce condemnation and opposition from taxi and public transportation operators since it was first introduced. Traditional motorbike taxi drivers told Xinhua that they are worried about their future as GrabBike has a tremendous advantage.

The development of the new ride-hailing apps makes the operation of the traditional taxi services seem old, antiquated and not as convenient. Traditional services, have to stay in a "familiar" working area to have customers. But now, with a smart phone, the "working area" now ceases to exist.

"On the one hand, in fairness, they are young, healthy, high-tech drivers who can travel everywhere on the streets, can easily approach customers, and offer a low fare. But on the other side, we are old, not used to new digital technology," Dang Hao Hung, a motorbike taxi driver in Hanoi, told Xinhua.

"We don't have enough money to buy smart phones or good motorbikes. Under the current pressure of competition, we will have to change jobs soon," Dang Hao Hung, a motorbike taxi driver in Hanoi, told Xinhua.

"I have been working as a motorbike taxi driver since 2001. Over the past 16 years I have experienced both the ups and downs of the job, which helps me feed my four-member family," the 56-year-old man said.

In the past few months, the number of customers using my service has plunged dramatically. Before GrabBike, I used to serve 6-7 customers a day. Now, the number has dropped to just 1-2 customers," said the traditional taxi driver.

Similarly, Hung, Hoang Thi Minh, another motorbike taxi driver, said her life has been disrupted by the introduction of GrabBike. 

"In the past, I could easily earn 150,000 Vietnamese dong (6.73 U.S. dollars) every day. However, since people keep calling GrabBike for a better fare, I have had no customers in the past two days," a Minh said, looking visibly worried.

In addition, being provided with photos, names, and motorbike plate numbers of each driver, brings Phuong a sense of security and credibility. 

"Instead of asking a stranger on the street to give me a lift, as is the case with traditional motorbike taxi drivers, with GrabBike, I know in advance who is going to pick me up, including the driver's age, face, name, and the bike's plate number, which makes me feel more comfortable about traveling," the young girl told Xinhua. 

According to a survey carried out by Zing, an online local newspaper, 87.55 percent of respondents said that ride-hailing apps like Grab help customers to travel at a cheaper price.

According to Vietnamese MoT Deputy Minister Nguyen Hong Truong, the application of information technology to connect customers with transportation companies, as Grab and Uber are doing, is a good innovation.

It has many advantages, including helping change traditional transport business methodologies, and make transport contracts and fees become more transparent.

Pointing out the differences between Grab and Uber, Truong said that in fact, Grab uses cars and motorbikes with registered plate numbers, which provide a safety net for both drivers and customers. 

Meanwhile, Uber uses free cars and motorbikes to join the app-based transportation system. In order to be approved, Uber should have registered to work as a legal transportation company that can be checked at any time and easily managed on the system, said Truong.



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