Eastern Cape readies digital taxi initiative

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 11 Jul 2024
The Eastern Cape will soon digitise taxi commuter payments.
The Eastern Cape will soon digitise taxi commuter payments.

The Eastern Cape Transport Tertiary Cooperative (ECTTC) is preparing to officially launch the Wealth on Wheels (WOW) Cashless and Digitisation Project across the Eastern Cape within this quarter.

This was revealed by new transport minister Barbara Creecy, who opened the 42nd Southern African Transport Conference (SATC), held this week, at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Tshwane.

Creecy noted the taxi industry transports about 80% of all users of public transport in the country and must therefore be an integral part of any transport planning approach.

The WOW forms part of the ongoing integration of SA’s taxi industry into the mainstream of the country’s transportation planning and policymaking, she added.

First announced last September, WOW is an initiative led by the South African National Taxi Council’s (Santaco’s) business arm, the ECTTC, in partnership with Forus Digital and Ecentric Payment Systems.

According to a statement, the initiative, which will be rolled out in two phases, will provide commuters in the Eastern Cape with a convenient cashless payment solution, as well as a GPS tracking system and real-time camera monitoring.

The first phase is focused on modernising scholar transport, to offer a safer and more efficient service for students and their families.

“WOW digital payment solutions enhance safety, efficiency and convenience for both operators and passengers,” said Dr Nokuthula Mbebe, CEO of ECTTC, speaking at the conference.

“Our mission is to create a safer and smarter service for the commuters and a more prosperous future for everyone involved in the industry. ECTTC and Santaco will support operators to maximise the benefits of the WOW platform.

“We are formalising the industry, and creating efficiency and improving services using digital tools. This is in line with the national government's objectives as per the legislation, which is to formalise the taxi industry and improve public transport in general in South Africa.”

The system eliminates the need for cash, offering a safer, more convenient way to pay. Passengers will use cards or mobile apps to pay for their rides, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience, which also reduces the risk of theft,” added Dr Mbebe.

The WOW platform, according to Dr Mbebe, will introduce digital cash payments, advanced fleet and vehicle management systems with GPS, camera monitoring, fuel rebates and a modernised scholar transport system.

The fleet-management tools aim to enhance safety, allowing for the monitoring of vehicles and fleets in real-time.

The WOW platform will also enable in-vehicle WiFi and allow operators to offer commuters other value-added services.

“WOW is paving the way for ongoing innovation,” continued Dr Mbebe. “We aim to expand our services to include last-mile delivery and ride-share alternatives, ensuring the taxi industry evolves and continues to serve as a backbone of South Africa’s transport infrastructure.”

Statistics South Africa estimates the minibus taxi industry is the main daily mode of transport for approximately 10.7 million citizens. Presently, there are approximately 250 000 to 300 000 minibus taxis in the country, belonging to an estimated 20 000 owners and 1 200 taxi associations.

SATC ends today and ran under the theme: Upskilling and reskilling the transport industry for current and future challenges.