The ride-hailing industry in Nigeria – Uber and Taxify, really – has recently come under fire for sexual assault complaints against its drivers. Smartphone-centric platforms make it shockingly easy for women passengers — and drivers — to be stalked or harassed, so the problem isn’t unique to any one platform.
In a new development, Taxify has now added a panic button to its app in Nigeria to safeguard (wait for it) its driver-partners against violent attacks and hijacks.
The button comes embedded in the Taxify driver app and triggers a distress call to the Lagos State Emergency Response Agency. After tapping it, the driver-partner will be prompted to confirm the call before placing it.
Not to discount the importance of driver safety or that harassment could go both ways, but we would have thought that given the rise in the number of complaints against the drivers, the panic button would be rolled out to riders – especially female riders – first. And that statistically, there are more female riders than drivers and women are more likely to be targets of assault and harassment.
According to Taxify Country Manager, Uche Okafor:
“At the top of our priority list is ensuring the safety of our drivers and riders. The safety button will allow Taxify driver-partners access rapid deployment of the correct emergency response, should they find themself in danger.
With hundreds of thousands of trips across the country booked through our app each week, the safety of driver-partners and riders is a top priority for the company. Over the last few years we’ve led the way with technology based safety features such a GPS tracking of every trip and our two-way rating system.
We recognize that we can utilize our technology even further and now that we have integrated the SOS button into the Taxify driver app, we look forward to applying this additional layer of safety to further strengthen driver safety while on the platform.”
But what happens when the rider is in danger from the driver? A lot of companies pay lip service to rider (women’s) safety, but it’s not always the highest priority. Here’s hoping they plan to make a similar feature available to actually ensure rider safety. We’ll wait.