A new local startup Emergency Taxi is partnering with traditional meter taxis to challenge Uber and Taxify in South Africa.
The company’s founder Prince Pirikisi told City Press that the service, which already has more than 150 vehicles registered in Gauteng, caters for traditional meter taxis through an app, similar to the ones available from Uber and Taxify, while also accommodating the not-so-tech market through an equally efficient call centre service.
The app is currently available on Android version and the company will soon release an iOS version.
The drivers will get 3% retainers, which are calculated annually and paid out as a bonus; provident fund benefit; rent-to-buy options; and the fixed per kilometre agreed rate with the council.
Pirikisi, who is the sole owner of Emergency Taxi, developed the application in 2016 but only launched it two months ago after lengthy negotiations with the Meter Taxi Council, which in turn gets a percentage of the profits.
“I have a background of IT, programming and animation, so we investigated the problems meter guys have. We found out the core problems were territorial, almost like cyberinvasion,” he told City Press, adding that another major problem identified was safety.
Pirikisi has invested about R2 million into launching the app, according to the newspaper.
On the thorny safety issue, which has dogged some of its e-hailing competitors, Pirikisi said the app had a concealed panic button, a live chat feature and a hidden camera, as well as anonymous random inspectors to ensure the quality of the services.
“All the vehicles and drivers are screened and vetted by the taxi association so no one else comes to us unless it is through them,” Pirikisi told City Press.
The service is only in Gauteng right now but there are plans to roll it out in Cape Town and Durban in the next six months.
After that the service would be extended to the rest of the country.
There are plans to expand into neighbouring countries, beyond Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana, where there have already been activations.
For more read: Taxi app brings meter taxis on board