ITWeb TV: New e-taxi app unites metered taxis, e-hailing drivers
New home-grown ride-hailing company Teksi Ride seeks to create a “peaceful and safe” e-hailing experience for customers through its partnership with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).
South Africa’s latest ride-hailing firm officially launches today. It believes the only way to eradicate the violence that mars SA’s e-hailing industry is by establishing a healthy union between the parties that were once rivals.
Teksi Ride developed a platform that sees metered taxis and e-hailing operators come together to work under the guidance of local taxi regulator Santaco.
The e-hailing mobile app was a developed by tech entrepreneurs Prince Pirikisi and Tatiana Makunike under their company, Teksi E-hailing SA.
Pirikisi has been in the local e-hailing tech industry since 2018, when he launched the now defunct e-hailing app Emergency Taxi, which he says offered him a great opportunity to learn the ropes of the local e-hailing industry.
During an interview with ITWeb TV, Pirikisi says the idea for the app arose after he attended the National Taxi Lekgotla in 2020 ─ an event that brought together the taxi industry and all its sub-sectors.
Among the resolutions made at the event, was the recognition of the taxi industry’s need to propel itself into the digital era with the adoption of cutting-edge technologies that meet commuters’ evolving transport needs.
As part of this resolution, Pirikisi had several engagements with the taxi regulators, which later resulted in the establishment of the Teksi Ride app, which uses some of the infrastructure utilised by Emergency Taxi.
The company works on the same principle as Uber and Bolt, of not employing drivers but allowing them to use the technology platform. The app brings on board metered taxi operators as well as ordinary operators. However, all drivers and operators on the platform are required to be registered under Santaco and should be in possession of a permit to offer their services to the public.
The app’s offerings include a 24-hour contact centre, facial recognition for a selfie test conducted by drivers and riders, an in-app emergency feature and physical training of all drivers.
All listed drivers are required to go through a rigorous vetting process. Riders are charged R8.50 per kilometre and a 20% commission fee is deducted from driver earnings.
“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, or come up with an out of this world invention through this app; however, we are cleaning up the industry by eradicating many of the challenges that plague the industry. We are bringing a solution that will ensure regulation and that accountability takes place. We are offering customers fair prices and a fair competition model. In addition, we are transforming the industry through a peaceful union with the metered taxi industry,” explains Pirikisi.
The service will initially be made available in Gauteng, with plans to expand to other parts of the country at a later stage. The app is currently only available on Android app stores, and has already registered a few hundred drivers, he notes.
According to Pirikisi, SA’s transport industry is dynamic and it’s important for new entrants to have a good understanding of the industry before imposing its terms and conditions on a market that is already price-sensitive, highly-competitive and dominated by issues of unfair wages and unfair labour practices.
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.
These issues have seen e-hailing drivers over the years taking to the streets to protest, calling on government to regulate the industry.
“We are saying that through our partnership with Santaco, we are bringing a business model premised on safety, security and accountability, where operators are working hand-in-hand with metered taxi operators under one umbrella as Santaco. We work directly with the operators who own the vehicles, as opposed to just registering the drivers, as is the norm in the current e-hailing industry.”
Santaco meter taxi deputy chairperson Sibongiseni Shange tells ITWeb that Teksi Ride is one of three e-hailing companies the council has collaborated with. The other two apps are currently at development phase, he notes.
This partnership is part of Santaco’s long-term vision to provide all its metered taxi members with an option to operate as e-hailers, while still accommodating commuters who are not tech-savvy, Shange explains.
“The fourth industrial revolution presents opportunities for growth and innovation, and our industry should not be left behind.
“As part of this strategy, we have been on a journey to look for strategic partnerships with tech companies that would develop digital solutions that are tailored for the local industry; not something that is a cut-and-paste, but one that speaks to the current market conditions.
“Our partnership with Teksi Ride will ensure the rules of engagement are aligned to the current regulations of the industry and those of the country, with safety being a key priority.”