Taxis, ride-hailing firms leave residents high and dry in flood-hit Saigon

By Vien Thong, Phuong Dong   November 26, 2018 | 02:40 am PT
Taxis, ride-hailing firms leave residents high and dry in flood-hit Saigon
Taxi and food delivery services overloaded as storm Usagi hits Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Nguyen
Even for prices several times the normal, Saigon residents could not get a taxi, Grab or Go Viet car.

The same was also true of food deliveries as these services floundered in the prolonged rain and flooding that swamped many streets.

Sunday night and Monday morning heard a chorus of complaints from customers unable to request vehicles on ride-hailing apps like Grab and Go Viet, as also taxis from Vinasun and Mai Linh. Many said all the apps related to these services seemed to have been disabled.

Hong Ha, a District 12 resident, tried ordering vehicles to get to work, but got nowhere with any of the apps.

"I tried everything, from motorbikes to cars, from Grab to GoViet, but no luck. Normally many traditional taxis wait outside the apartment, but today there were none. I have to wait for a taxi to drop off a customer here and take it."

Thanh Huong of Binh Thanh District said that she was able to request a cab but the driver did not show up. "I waited and waited but the app showed my driver was not moving. Turned out the roads were flooded and the driver was stuck in traffic, so he apologized."

FastGo CEO Nguyen Huu Tuat said that demand rose threefold last Sunday but there were not enough drivers. Grab staff told VnExpress that the service was overloaded.

"Because of the storm, we are aware that Grab has not been able to adequately meet the travel needs of our customers. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused and request your understanding," a Grab representative said.

Similarly, food delivery services were not able to meet demands as their partner drivers took the day off because of the storm. GrabFood didn’t increase its prices, but it was very difficult to find a driver. Many partner restaurants on the app also stopped taking orders.

At the same time, customers of local food delivery app Now were restricted to ordering within a 4-km radius and had to wait for hours for food.

Nguyen Bao Toan, CEO of leading taxi firm Vinasun, said that the sudden surge in demand stained the company’s systems.

Vinasun estimates that it made 3-4 times the normal revenue. "Over 90 percent of our cars operated at peak time, apart from drivers who exceeded revenue targets or had lightly damaged vehicles due to the flooding. More severe damage is being examined by our insurers," said Toan.

As of Monday afternoon, taxi and delivery services had returned to normal, and the number of customer complaints decreased gradually, apart from some areas that are still flooded or congested.

Storm Usagi weakened into tropical depression Sunday afternoon, but sparked prolonged heavy downpours in HCMC that inundated at least 40 streets. Several flood-prone streets in the city like Huynh Tan Phat, Nguyen Huu Canh, Hong Bang and Thao Dien were virtual swimming pools Sunday night.

Saigon on Sunday afternoon:

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