By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – When Alvimar da Silva realized Uber did not reach some of the more dangerous, far-flung areas of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, he saw an opportunity: If the popular ride-sharing service did not go there, he would.
After six months of driving for the US application in the gridlocked city, da Silva launched in 2017 his own rival service JaUbra in the sprawling northern district of Brasilândia.
Since then, around fifty drivers have registered and da Silva hopes to expand to other no-go areas of the metropolis of 12 million which boasts the highest number of Uber users in the world.
Uber and other ride-sharing apps “started to veto the neighborhoods considered risky and difficult to access. But as we are already here, we don’t have any trouble,” says da Silva as he drives down the street where he was born fifty years ago, tooting his horn to greet residents.
Few outsiders dare to enter parts of Brasilândia where many of its 265,000 inhabitants live in favelas made up of precarious multi-story constructions squeezed into a labyrinth of streets covering the hills nine miles from the center of São Paulo.
Rampant crime and poor internet access mean many Uber drivers do not accept journeys to the district.
And for those living in Brasilândia, the app is impossible to access from various points, as AFP confirmed during a recent visit.