Admittedly, the somewhat unregulated Taxi industry in South Africa is a lynchpin of our public transport system, and they provide a service that’s essential for millions of South Africans. Those same South Africans have made it clear they want a little more structure and better communication to improve the service – and the new locally-developed Khwela app is going to give passengers the platform to do just that.
The main function, that will help passengers and improve the industry, is an improved capacity to monitor drivers and rank managers, as well as having a way for the commuters to communicate with taxi officials and other commuters. Effectively, it will facilitate better a better relationship between taxis and travellers much in the same way that something like Uber does.
The app is intended to digitise the existing networks between taxi ranks and allow them a direct link to their commuters, allowing the riders to raise awareness about issues they’re having or handle any queries, emergencies or other alerts. The most important part of its function is the intention to have routes and available taxis highlighted in real time, making it that much easier to link commuters with potential taxis.
The official launch for the first phase in Gauteng will take place at the end of May, but the plan is to expand the app’s reach to the whole of South Africa.
Public transport and the global taxi industry has been revolutionised with the introduction of apps like Uber, which not only create a better link between drivers and passengers, but also make finding transport far more convenient and accessible to the users of the app. Those same benefits could be made available to taxi commuters, which is good for the commuters but also for the taxi drivers and rank managers because it encourages more use of their service.
While things like Uber and the Gautrain, are great they’re extremely expensive and limited in application, so they cut out a large segment of South African commuters. An app like Khwela could bring a needed injection of cutting edge tech to a service used by a vast amount of the country’s population – hopefully paving the way for a better experience for both the passengers and the folks behind the wheels.