By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
Metered and cashless moto taxi transport that could soon be implemented across the country is expected to improve moto riding experience by saving time for operators, riders and increase road safety.
The transport regulator, RURA has recently given license Yego Innovation ltd, the smart transport company that is behind metered- moto taxi project, but it appears the full adoption across the cities and others parts of the country could take time.
The initiative follows full cashless payment in public taxi bus transportation in all roads of Kigali city, where passengers use dedicated payment cards.
Yego innovation LTD,the company that targets other African markets equips taxi motos with meters that measure the trips and allow riders to pay fare based on distance travelled and via mobile money, GPS devices that can be used for security by monitoring speeds and track vehicles.
Despite the company’s one year operation in Kigali, the smart transport uptake was relatively slow as some motorists were not interested, while other technology companies namely SafeMotos and Pascal Tracking Rwanda had also expressed interest in smart taxi moto transportation, some of their services similar to the licensed operators’.
Karanvir Singh, CEO and managing director of Yego Innovation LTD told Rwanda Today in interview last week, that all taxi motorists will adopt the technology as RURA passed the new regulation.
“Now it is compulsory and it is law,” said Mr. Singh adding there will be fines for either driving without meter or for failure to use a meter.
The company said it has installed 630 devices on moto in a pilot project which the firm calls a proof of concept, the number that is small in comparison to around 25,000 registered taxi operators in the country, according the taxi moto federation.
Mr. Salomon Bigirimana, acting president of Rwanda federation of taxi moto cooperatives known for its French acronym FERWACOTAMOTO told the media this week, the federation has not been involved in the regulation project which would help taxi operators understand and easily embrace it .
“We have not been consulted as the company (Yego innovation ltd) only engaged individual motorists,” said Bigirimana adding there are other two tech companies that were also interested in smart taxi moto.
“This is a good initiative but when the problems arise it affects us as we have to mediate in solving them,”
Yego innovation ltd had previously signed agreements with three taxi moto cooperatives in Kigali during its pilot project.
Mr.Bigirimana said there has been some issues in the contracts as some clauses were not clear for motorists.
In the metered taxi moto system riders pay Rwf 110 per Km, but the first 2 km costs Rwf 300.
Mr. Singh noted motorists revenues will increase as prices are calculated by RURA on scientific basis.
“They (motorists) are not well educated ,if you take 8 km is Rwf 1000 ,if you drive 18 km and you negotiate very well again its Rwf1000,” explained the CEO adding sometimes they earn little or make loss.
The cashless in public bus transportation has also reportedly increased revenues of vehicles owners.
Others issue that cashless taxi moto system is expected to address including changes as passengers waste their time waiting for changes while sometimes motorists get way with money.
According to Yego Innovation LTD, 56 drivers per day would cheat customers and run way with change.
On security front as taxi moto is notorious for being involved in many road accidents ,the new technology can be used to monitor the speed and alert police but it is not known whether this has been applied before.
Taxi moto cooperatives federation believes sensitization is needed to make the new regulated transport system work.
The leader of FERWACOTAMOTO told this paper the technology is good but in every new project there are side effects.
“For instance some moto users have told us the fare could be high with metered services while some moto drivers also said the new technology could reduce their income,” he explained adding it’s still early but sensitization is needed.
RURA has not yet announced the new taxi moto regulation; but its spokesperson Tony Kuramba said the agency is running a campaign to sensitize taxi motorists on embracing technology in transport.
Rwanda Today understands when it is effective all moto operators will be given 9 months to adopt it.
The licensed tech company said by 15th of March it will have installed 200 more meters on moto and after that it will be 5000 a month.
Despite challenges at the beginning the uptake of cashless system in taxi bus transportation known as Tap & Go has increasingly grown and now it has become lifestyle for city dwellers.
As of February last year Patrick Buchana,CEO of AC Group have said 1,5 million people have payment cards .
The smart transport company also expanded to two cities in Cameroon, where over 62,000 people are using its transportation system in Yaounde.
Yego Innovation ltd said it is in talks with transport officials in both Kenya and Uganda to enroll the cashless system in two East African countries.