Pakistan was a relatively late entrant to the ride-hailing landscape – Dubai-headquartered Careem launched middle of last year and Uber in March, but the battle between the two heavyweights is only now truly underway.
Uber says Pakistan is one of its fastest growing global markets and Careem asserts that its local operations have grown at an average rate of 50 per cent month-on-month.
Local media reports have claimed the bulk of those profiting from Uber’s entry into Pakistan have been large fleet owners. They’ve put their idle cars on Uber, and, in some cases, forced drivers to stay on the road for up to 18 hours every day. In return they’re given a set wage of only $250/month, with little incentive to maintain high service levels.
Customer complaints on Uber’s Twitter page have been left unattended for several days and alarming stories of harassment have also emerged.
Uber seems to be maintaining a hands-off approach in Pakistan, preferring to weed out drivers through its ratings mechanism, rather than working with them closely to raise standards.
Word on the street is that Careem is comfortably beating Uber, both in terms of active riders as well as cars plying the roads. The view is consistent with data from SimilarWeb, which says Careem is the larger company in Pakistan based on app installs.
Uber is priced anywhere between 25 to 30 per cent cheaper than Careem. If the Middle Eastern challenger is indeed ahead, it shows that Pakistan’s commuters want a premium experience and aren’t hesitant about paying slightly more for it.