Home-grown e-hailer focuses on safety, fair driver earnings

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 18 Apr 2024
Shesha drivers can unlock collective equity ownership of the company.
Shesha drivers can unlock collective equity ownership of the company.

Shesha, a new South African-owned e-hailing service, is looking to “revolutionise” the local ride-hailing market, through its business model that offers partner drivers an opportunity to own a stake in the company.

Launched in Johannesburg today, Shesha (an isiZulu term meaning “hurry up”) is founded by a consortium of key stakeholders with experience in SA’s transport industry.

These include seasoned Gauteng taxi industry professionals, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), the Gauteng National Taxi Association (GNTA) and private sector organisations, with the support of the South African E-hailing Association and Gauteng Department of Transport.

The company says its multi-stakeholder foundation helps to bring understanding of SA’s transport landscape and expertise to the business, ensuring Shesha is a disruptive player committed to understanding the needs of Gauteng's e-hailing community.

By creating an e-hailing service “for South Africans by South Africans” with a strong focus on safety, the company says it has a competitive advantage over international giants Uber, inDrive and Bolt, which currently dominate the local market.

Speaking to ITWeb on the sidelines of this morning’s launch event, Nomsa Mdhluli, spokesperson for Shesha, said: “What makes Shesha a potential game-changer in SA’s e-hailing market is that its major stakeholders include representatives with vast experience in the local transport and taxi industry, all with the backing and support of the Gauteng Department of Transport.

“Shesha drivers can unlock collective equity ownership of the company, through the newly-formed Gauteng E-hailers Services Trust (GEST). They also have access to comprehensive medical aid cover, disability insurance and a bursary fund offered through GEST. We are committed to ongoing employee support to ensure drivers’ sustainable growth.”

Riders can download the Shesha mobile app for Android on Google Play. Shesha’s iOS App Store version is planned for the near future.

Services will initially roll out in Gauteng, with other provinces to follow in the near future, according to the company.

According to Mdhluli, Shesha has signed a memorandum of understanding with Santaco and the GNTA, with the aim of fostering closer and harmonious cooperation, in an industry marred by violence and crime.

The agreement also seeks to enhance safety through accountability and ensuring the company offers a reliable, quality service at affordable rates.

Since inception, the industry has been plagued by violence, with many drivers being victimised and harassed over the past few years, allegedly by metered taxi industry rivals and criminals.

“Shesha is currently on-boarding new drivers in Gauteng. Over 600 drivers are already registered on the platform. We deduct a 20% commission from the drivers’ earnings, which is below the industry rate. This means we put more money in the driver’s pocket,” Mdhluli adds.

Addressing delegates at the launch, Dr Thulani Mdadane, HOD at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Roads and Transport, commented: “Among other things, this collaboration will ensure economic emancipation, by providing job opportunities to many South Africans.

“The provincial government is ready to provide all the support required, but we are also here to ensure a good service is offered to the public by Shesha. We will be listening to all the complaints − if any are received − and we will take them seriously.”

Shesha says the benefits for riders include:

In-app emergency feature: Providing a safety net for riders and drivers during unforeseen circumstances.

Identification validation: Validation of driver and customer ID through integration with national system. Facial recognition tools are also used to ensure authenticity.

OTP verification: Customers receive a unique OTP for each ride, enhancing identification accuracy and trip security.

Cashless payments: Shesha promotes cashless transactions through a secure wallet system, adding an extra layer of safety for riders and drivers.

Affordable rates: R9 per kilometre for an entry-level vehicle. Weather conditions or peak traffic will not affect the pricing.