My experience with ‘Call-a-Rik’

Published: September 5, 2012

Taking a ride in this fashionable Rik wasn't any different from travelling in a regular rickshaw. It was just as noisy and bumpy. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

Travelling around by rickshaw is something most Pakistanis, especially ones in the cities, are used to. Travelling through a ‘Rik’, though, is an entirely different experience!

When a colleague told me about the Call-a-Rik service, I immediately decided to give this new addition in the public transport of Pakistan a try.

Here is my account of the experience.

Reserving a Rik:

I visited the website of the service and found it be very distasteful. They definitely need a better web designer, but I digress.

The purpose of my visit was to gather some information about the service and to book a ride. That, the website served well. The online booking form was simple and brief. However, instead of receiving the confirmation after few minutes, as the website promises, I received it after a few hours─ just 15 minutes prior to the time I had to get picked up.

Online services in Pakistan are not usually that fast, so I ignored the delay. The real issue was to explain the address to the customer service executive. I was expecting that the person must have gone through the maps before calling me, but it appeared as though he wasn’t fully aware of the area and finally asked me to walk to a nearby bus stop.

This was utterly disappointing because the one thing that tempted me to make use of this service was that they would pick me up from my doorstep.

Well, that didn’t work.

I reached the decided point, waited for the Rik, and it was there on the mentioned time. There was no delay – none at all and I emphasise this point because in Pakistan people don’t usually care for punctuality. Thus, this was a big win.

Riding the Rik:

Let me tell you something; pictures never tell the truth.

The same is true for this Rik.

As promised, the vehicle did have door with locks. It was clean, the seats were comfortable and there was space for stretching your legs – a little. Yet, the interior of the Rik was not well-polished and looked unfinished. There were pegs sticking out which could injure children travelling in it.

There was an LCD in front of me (though a mini one) and there were two headphones at each corner. I now regret that I didn’t ask the driver to switch it on for me. Since I didn’t see the results, I can’t comment on the video or audio quality.

Safety and comfort:

Taking a ride in this fashionable Rik wasn’t any different from travelling in a regular rickshaw. It was just as noisy and bumpy.

However, I must say that it was really a safe ride, as they promised. The driver was not chatty like normal rikshaw drivers; he was very respectable towards me and did not interact except for confirming the route. Since the Rik is closed from the sides, I didn’t have to worry about people looking straight at me – although people were looking at the Rik in amazement because it looks so different! I felt quite secure knowing that my privacy was protected.

The fare:

I discovered a real flaw in the service just after the ride had already begun─ the meter reader wasn’t working.

With no functional meter reader, I couldn’t see the number of kilometres I travelled. This left me sceptical about whether they really charged me Rs10 per kilometre or not. I say this because a regular rickshaw driver took some Rs50 less than what I paid to them, for the same journey.

Rating the Rik:

If you are looking for an excellent and prompt door-to-door service with a reasonable fare, Call-a-Rik isn’t the answer to your problems. However, with regards to safety, security, and comfort, I give it 10 on 10.

Despite the few issues I faced during the ride, I still liked the idea of an online rickshaw service and do intend to use it again. I would strongly encourage girls to travel by a Call-a-Rik at least once. Remember to confirm the fare beforehand and do ask them to send a Rik with a working meter reader. Check the kilometres through Google maps and make sure that they aren’t charging you extra.

After taking these precautions, I assure you that you’ll love the security you feel while travelling in a rickshaw with closed doors.

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Fizza Rizvi

Fizza Rizvi

A researcher by profession with particular interest on subjects related to feminism. She tweets @Fiza555

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • mansoornawawaz

    Please stop criticizing. kabhi khush bhe hoa karo dear Pakistanis!! Recommend

  • galli ke larki

    how many fares can be seated in this one?Recommend

  • Hamid

    Give them time to settle and be ready to serve emotional nation.Recommend

  • Amazed

    I am amazed to know about this web working in Pak. Really amazed!Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    I’m somewhat perturbed by the idea that the society, instead of dealing directly with the problem of women being disrespected in public places, is finding ways to circumvent it.

    To not fix the core problem, but rather adapt to it by further segregating women from the public sphere.

    At best, such social entrepreneurship is an analgesic. The real problem of the way society treats women still needs to be addressed, and corrected.Recommend

  • M.Aswad Mehatb

    > Since the Rik is closed from the sides, I didn’t have to worry aboutpeople looking straight at me..

    After Reading this line I thought this dude is crazy and than i went all the way upto the page to make sure that its a lady :P Recommend

  • Fizza

    @Faraz Talat:
    I 101% agree with you but this is something that needs long-term planning. You can’t change people minds so easily. So you can take this doored ‘Rik’ as a short-term remedy. Recommend

  • Fizza

    Thanks for reading the post. My reason for using this service again (as mentioned in the last para) is mainly because I want to give them time. I may write a second review of their service to tell how improved they are after some months but I fear with such flaws in service, they might get failed too early. Recommend

  • Fizza

    Criticism leads to improvement. Thanks for reading.Recommend

  • Faaltu mein khwam kha

    @Faraz Talat
    Kudos to you…you really touched a raw nerve. Recommend

  • :(

    I only hope that there will be a betterment in their service. But personally i don’t think so. The basic problem with our nation is that we never do what we commit. :(Recommend

  • Parvez

    I thought it was a fair assessment and the door has been left open for improvement.Recommend

  • Fizza

    @:( Let’s hope for the bestRecommend

  • Fizza

    Thanks Parvez.Recommend

  • Fizza

    @galli ke larki:
    3, like in normal rickshaw but I’ve seen 6-7 people riding on a single Rickshaw so it all depends on the passengers’ size and guts :)Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Gaad

    ZooZoo … I want to take ride on this Rik-Shaw once.Recommend

  • Zobi Fatima

    I Think You done a great job by informing us about this new arrival. Recommend

  • Saad Munir

    I have provided the very same business plan 3 years back in one of the Business Idea competition. The idea was much appreciated. I have worked along with my team a lot on this idea to make sure it comes very close to the reality. I am now by profession a Business planner and analyst providing services to more than 300 global clients a year. And now when I look at that plan I can say that was one of its kind. Best financial structure, excellent business model and awesome marketing strategy. but despite of this all I was unable to start this idea. Because making plans and running a business has a lot of difference. The day call-a-rik started I talked to these people appreciated them for the effort and assure my help if required. But you know what, even Jobs couldn’t make the perfect machine in the first attempt. I think author should have appreciated more than criticizing on useless basis.

    This business model will improve over time. These guys are committed to it. A business with a social help in Pakistan is one good thing happening. In the coming few years it will be expanded business and you might find more competitors with more unique services.May be Google Map based navigation system, which I presented, but again appreciation for any good business is motivating.

    Idea I presented drafted YouTube video link

    P.S: The website, I also asked them about it, and they said they are making a new one which will be launched soon.Recommend

  • Fizza

    @Saad Munir:
    “I think author should have appreciated more than criticizing on useless basis.”

    I have just told you my experience with the service and have tried my best to be as neutral as was possible. My tone, as far as I’ve tried, is not criticizing but analytical and my arguments are factual and not at all “useless” from a service-user point-of-view. Please read the post again not with the eye of a business planner but with the eye of a user.Recommend

  • Zohaib

    I just like to correct one thing: Google Maps is not the most Reliable service when it comes to counting kilometers on routes (the margin of error could range between 2 to 5 km from the actual map), so I suggest in order to truly verify the no. of kilometers they’re calculating and charging you, try a route out…for which you know the distance.

    I hope these guys grow this service into a successful enterprise, I still remember the good old days when ‘Metrobus’ was launched. It was truly magnificent! I was deeply sad to discover that they couldn’t sustain it. Coming from Suparco (Mausmiat) Chowk to Nipa (thats a distance of about 5 km), while Sitting on a seat, with Air-conditioning, in just Rs.10 in 1999; It seems like a Dream now in Karachi :|Recommend

  • curious

    A lone woman travelling in a closed vehicle with a na mehram? With music and possibly a film thrown in?

    It has to be a conspiracy against Pakistan.Recommend

  • Umar Mukhtar

    Atlast, sanity prevails and there is a blog on tribune which in real terms addresses and talks about an issue which is directly realted to general public.
    A very neutral analysis. KUDOS TO THE AUTHOR for maintaining a professional touch throughout the article. Looking forward to more sane articles from her ! Recommend

  • Saad Munir

    @Fizza: I am sorry, If I offend you in any way, but many tycoons have stated that a social business should be appreciated more at least in the early stages of initiation. If that would be some cab service in East London, I wouldn’t be commenting. But in the crunch economical and stability time right now, in the country; I think this should be a more appreciated post. But Anyways, you did a good job sharing your experience. Recommend

  • Saad Munir

    @Zohaib: I think a simple business model of Radio cab if converted to Call-a-rik is excellent. Like a back end call center to inquire the position. A radio gps in rickshaw to track the nearest available one to reach at the pick-up point. And a simple digital meter with a customer end display as well. In future google maps can be added in the screens to show the current location of the rickshaw, rather than the audio video entertainment screen :)Recommend

  • Arslanh

    Great step! we need more people like this!Recommend

  • Zohaib

    @Saad: I agree, the model is good (if not great, considering the economic and political instabilities currently prevailing in Karachi, I can led the ruggedness of the service ‘slide’ and cut these guys some slack), but What I really hope/PRAY and willing to Contribute to, is a Public Metro service…which is Badly needed more than Any other form of transportation in Karachi.

    This is a Necessity which in a Crowded Metro like Karachi, is as much Crucial as WATER. We need a sound business plan for such a Metro Service (Metro-rail/Metro-buses, Anything that holds a capacity of 70+ and travels through the major “Arteries” of the City!

    Metrobus did that, even if so for a few years…We need such a service more than Anything, otherwise we’re going to see a Rapid increase in chaotic traffic jams, more looting opportunities for Armed Thugs, Road Accidents…you get the idea :|Recommend

  • Mavric

    I like the way the author has approached the subject, it is neutral and objective. I wish the managers of this business sees this article and improve on the points the authors has highlighted. Recommend