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Grab starts operation in Naga

By Juan Escandor Jr. NAGA CITY---Hailing taxi and e-trike is apps away as the taxi-booking firm Grab kicked off its operation Tuesday in the Metro Naga area, comprising nine towns and this city, more than 300 km south of Manila. “Why we came in to Naga is because it is really booming with people reaching one million in daytime. There are five universities and BPO centers have more than 5,000 employees. That’s super rare, to be honest, outside Metro Manila,” Carlo Cu Unjieng, Grab Philippines head of expansion, quipped before a group of the local media here on Tuesday. Unjieng said the initial Grab operation involved 70 taxis and several electric trikes or e-trikes. He said the Grab apps can be downloaded in their website and by Tuesday night (May 22) interested passengers can already use it within the Metro Naga area. Asked how much percentage of the fare the Grab will take being the owner of the apps, Unjieng said that for the P25 taxi booking fee, the Grab will get P5. He did not give any figure how much the Grab will take from the minimum fare of P8 per head for the e-trikes with six passengers which makes each booking cost at P48. Unjieng said they are still working out with the e-trike drivers how to build the “livelihood of our partners sustainable.” “We will give incentive of P25 as long as they hit the number of rides per week.” He claimed that in Pampanga and Balanga, where there is also GrabTrike, the drivers’ earnings have gone up to P1,000-P2,000 per week. “For us drivers, it will be a big help because we will stop searching for passengers, if the trade terms will be okay. But we really still don’t know how Grab will work in Naga,” Jojo Estrada, representative of taxi drivers, said in Bikol. Unjieng said the Grab in Naga will only use taxis with franchises and private vehicles are not yet in their plan. Alec Francis Santos, head of Naga City’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Office, said the city government invited Grab last year to come to Naga after several complaints of overcharging by taxi drivers were reported to the Office of the Mayor. Santos said it came out from the mediation between complaining passengers and taxi drivers that the reason they were overcharging is because the drivers do not know where to get passengers. He said the taxi drivers tend to stay in central locations like malls and the airport “when in reality we’ve also received inquiries from tourists if there is Grab here.” Santos said Mayor John Bongat suggested inviting Grab in December last year to resolve the problem of abusive taxi drivers with the use of apps where the drivers are directly rated by the passengers.

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