Johannesburg, 18 May 2020: The world was not prepared for a pandemic nor the complete shift of lifestyle needed to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infection rate. South Africa is no exception and the current lockdown limitations are also, unfortunately, placing strain on industries and households. The transport system is no exception to the impact of the virus and if anything, has exposed flaws that need to be addressed in order to revolutionise passenger travel. This begs the question: Is South Africa ready for smart and cashless public transport?

The public transport industry is being hit hard during lockdown with taxi services (which in 2019 was the main form of transport for 69% of SA households) being limited to a portion of their normal licenced passenger load. Joe Moyo the MD of Afri Ride highlights that there are other factors, besides the number of passengers, that are posing possible risks in terms of spreading the Covid-19 virus when using the traditional taxi services in South Africa:

“You’re exposed when you’re standing in the queue waiting for the taxi to be filled; you’re exposed when you enter the taxi, and you’re exposed when you are paying because there is no taxi operator in South Africa that I know of that permits smart money or EFT payment system. Everything is done in cash and this virus is very stubborn when it comes to staying on surfaces.”

Moyo, who recently wrote to the Dept. of Transport and the Dept. of Health, proposed the Afri Ride app as a ready solution to help mitigate these and other risks that the transport and healthcare sectors are facing. The Afri Ride app allows passengers to pre-book their seats for a pre-determined time and pick-up location so that neither the driver nor the passenger need to wait for extensive periods at taxi nodes such as taxi ranks, and payments are made cashless. The benefits of implementing the Afri Ride app into the public taxi service industry and partnering with government departments won’t just restore the public’s faith in the health and safety of travelling with taxis but also help the SA Government track and contain the current and possible future outbreaks of the virus as well:

“Even after the epidemic is gone, there’s going to be one big element that is going to follow us and define how people are going to live: traceability. Traceability in terms of the current epidemic that we’re facing in the world. Traceability in terms of any other future events that will unfold, be it crime; be it another epidemic, as we’ve been warned that there will be many of them; be it for any other social or security reason. Afri Ride is that point of reference able to provide the data to aid and control security, health and safety within the public transport sector.”

“If somebody in the taxi ride is a carrier of the virus, we are able to contact the driver as well as the other passengers to let them know that they may have been potentially exposed to the virus. Because the driver or passenger specifies pick-up and drop-off location, it is easy for Afri Ride to determine two of the person’s locations at specific times in order to determine places and times others were exposed to the virus”

Moyo explains that by first approaching the government departments with their solution they hope to get government support and approval before they approach the Taxi Associations with their proposal. “We have decided to forego the admin fee during the current crisis for any public transport services that would like to implement the app in their business models and services. We need all hands on deck if we plan to mitigate the spread of the virus”

According to Moyo, “By introducing a public vehicle option, we are creating innovative solutions for the public transport sector  “You don’t necessarily need to spend the whole day waiting to load your taxi at the taxi rank. You can simply list your trip on Afri Ride and only go to the pick-up location to pick up those that have already requested a ride” We wrote to the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Health and all the other stakeholders involved to say, “We are a company in Southern Africa with a tailored solution for the public transport sector right now. We are trying to help the public transport sector to innovate because we will forever need public transport.”

To conclude, Moyo predicts that the future of public transport will forever be changed based on the harsh lessons learnt from the current pandemic and the sooner the industry learns to adapt and innovate, the faster the industry will be able to recover from its current losses while providing passengers with even better service quality and drivers with safer working conditions. The best part is it’s already achievable with the use of the Afri Ride App.

About Afri Ride

Afri Ride is a fresh and innovative pan-African tech company, that offers a new way of ridesharing, using an innovative mobile application that caters to commuters across the continent. We pride ourselves in promoting entrepreneurship and providing solutions that address the age-old issue of mobility in Africa. Our platform connects travellers in Africa through four primary features: Offer A Seat, Find a Seat, Offer A Car and Borrow A Car.
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