BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Every morning, Jihan Masria Al-Haqam Hj Masri gets up to prepare for a full day of ferrying strangers around. It’s not your conventional ‘9-to-5’ job, but he is grateful to finally be earning an income.

On a good month, the full-time DartCar driver takes home nearly $2,000. However, it hasn’t always been that way — less than a year ago, the 32-year-old was unemployed and was desperately applying for vacancies, to no avail.

“I badly needed a paying job. Dart was the first company that hired me after months of trying to find employment,” he shared.

Jihan isn’t alone, 35 percent of Dart drivers were previously unemployed. And the logistics company is eager to hire more jobseekers in order to meet rising demand.

A DartCar picking up a passenger in Gadong. Photo: The Scoop

Just five months after it was given the green-light to operate ride-sharing services, it is seeing a steady growth in the number of users. Dart data indicate uptake has increased by 40 percent with the highest daily figure reaching 140 rides.

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Putting the brakes on unemployment

With less than 60 active drivers to cater to a growing customer base, Dart CEO Zul’Amali DP Hj Idris is calling on more youth to join the team.

“We believe that Dart can create more employment opportunities for locals, especially youth. We aim to boost their earnings by providing an equitable source of income for our drivers, while earning the trust of our consumers,” he said.

Co-founder and CEO of Dart Zul’Amali DP Hj Idris (L) speaking to media. Photo: The Scoop

He added: ” We’re here to solve problems… whether that’s creating jobs for unemployed graduates, helping tourists find their way around Brunei, or expanding Brunei’s transport options.”

There is an overhead cost to becoming a DartCar driver to cover for training, license and registration fee amounting to under $200. However, the Dart CEO assured that most drivers earn back the money in their first few days.

Drivers are also required to top up their insurance coverage to include passengers, as stipulated by law.

If you’re just looking to earn a side income, the company also offers part-time positions. In fact, 65 percent of its drivers signed up as a means to supplement their income.

Local gym owner Md Adib Pehin Hj Sulaiman, said that the flexibility of the job bodes well with his schedule. “I only give rides whenever I am free [in order] to earn extra income.”

He makes $500 a month by putting on his Dart driver hat four to five times a week, pulling three-hour shifts each time.

“Joining the team was pretty straightforward as they took care of most of the processes. I only had to make sure that my car was under 10 years old and fill up some forms,” he said.

Buckle up, come join the Dart side

Most Dart users — 84 percent — comprise locals, permanent residents and expatriates, majority of whom are between 18 and 34 years old. Therefore, there is vast untapped potential to grow its customer base to include more tourists and other age groups.

At the moment, the tech startup is working to establish more physical Dart stops around the country including public and commercial places as well as hotels, in a bid to raise awareness and increase visibility.

“[While our data show] an eagerness among young people to explore public transport solutions… Dart aims to be the leading provider for both Bruneians and visitors to Brunei,” Dart said.

Photo: The Scoop

With more drivers on board, Zul’Amali is hopeful to be able to service customers from other districts better and grow Dart’s customer base.

According to him, there have already been 18,000 downloads for its ride-hailing app. The app will show the fixed price of the ride and customers do not have to worry about paying more than the stated amount.

Although it is bound by state-regulated tariff, Dart offers competitive pricing with constant promotions and discounts. Customers can expect to pay up to 60 per cent less than original metered fare. The final cost of each trip is already pre-calculated when a customer makes their booking via the app.

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