Jay CabozBy Jay Caboz|December 6, 2020|8 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Order From Chaos: Why A Taxi Driver Should Give A Hoot About The New Cell Phone App In Town

Entrepreneur Mbavhalelo Mabogo wants to bring calm to the chaos of South Africa’s taxi rank. They are not for the faint hearted, drivers do what they want and people are often left to feel unsafe. Now Mabogo has come up with an equally crazy idea to use a cell phone to bring order from chaos. It's a bit like trying to put Uber into an industry that's a law unto itself.

In Site C taxi rank in the heart of the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha it’s organised chaos. Here, thousands of commuters gather in queues snaking through the streets; hundreds of taxi drivers hoot as they rush commuters into their Toyota Quantums to begin their day.

For many of the taxi owners keeping track of their vehicles is hard-enough. Organising drivers around the taxi rank is even harder. That is exactly what entrepreneur Mbavhalelo Mabogo wants to do. 

Call him brave or foolhardy. He is moving ranks with nothing more than an app has developed called Quickloc8 to make sense of all this chaos around him.

“I grew up using taxis. It was part of my life. One of the things I realised the industry is the same. The challenges that they had fifty years ago are the same challenges they have today. The question is how I can introduce solutions that can advance the industry.”

The Limpopo-born Mabogo stands out like a sore thumb in an orange jacket at Site C taxi rank in Khayelitsha among his customers. He chats amicably with drivers from all walks of life, many of them know him by name and they eagerly pull out their cell phones to show him what his app is doing for them.

This warm reception shouldn’t be a surprise. Almost 2,000 taxis have already been linked to the app.

What it does is give taxi owners a bird’s eye view of where there’s fleets are moving in real time. The app puts vital data in the hands of the owners that can help them ease the chaos and bring order to their business.

Owners can see if a taxi is speeding, overloaded or going off on a tangent. The power of this app is you can stop a taxi dead in its tracks from their cell phones.

“I remember the first time I went to explain to them what we have. We were really surprised when we pitched it to taxi owners, a bunch of them said ‘okay let’s do it, there’s my taxi right there’.”

“The trick was to create an app for people that have never really used apps. Our oldest user was born in 1932 and we had to make something user friendly and intuitive that anyone can feel comfortable using every single day. Even though it’s got extremely complicated technology built into it.” 

The R90 billion ($5.5 billion) taxi industry is said to employ some 300,000 drivers. It transports a staggering 40% of South Africans. Yet, despite the large chunk of people it services, the industry remains unregulated and has a reputation for lawlessness and poor safety records, reports Bloomberg.

“Taxi owners have also been taken advantage of. They’ve been robbed. They’ve been tied into unwanted contracts, they’ve been sold garbage, they’ve been treated unfairly with legal non- compliance.

“We install hardware inside the taxi that has a GPS and is interconnected with the taxi wiring. Whether the driver has a phone or not, the owner is able to connect to the app and give them all the information they need.”

Even more new technology is on its way, says Mabogo.

Thanks to a R470,000 grant from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Quickloc8 have just completed a pilot project that taught cameras to count the number of passengers in a taxi at any given time using embedded algorithms. These same cameras could also help livestream form inside the taxi while it’s on the move – to combat crime and non-compliance when it comes to wearing masks for instance.

I grew up using taxis. It was part of my life. One of the things I realised the industry is the same. The challenges that they had fifty years ago are the same challenges they have today. The question is how I can introduce solutions that can advance the industry.

- Mbavhalelo Mabogo

“There is a lot of trafficking happening, harassment that will now become transparent…If there is a conflict inside the taxi, an owner will be able to deal with the problem live and in real time.”

Another product they want to roll out using the same camera technology is designed for parents that hire taxis to transport their children to and from school.

“The anxiety a taxi owner knows when they don’t know where their taxi is multiplied tenfold for a parent who is wondering if their kid is making it to school safely. We want to give them a peace of mind.”

One of the reasons why Quickloc8 has been a success is because Mabogo was talking with his potential clients from the beginning.

“We don’t try to think we know what’s good for the taxi industry. We sit with them and help solve the problems they are seeing and what they want solved. What’s important is the demand is coming from taxi owners and they are ready to drive the transformation in the industry.”

Taxi drivers are known as a tough crowd to please. Mabogo has won over quite a few in his early days. Maybe out of chaos could come order as well as acceptance.

Aquatecture Cape Town Test Installation is researched, conceptualised and designed by Shaakira Jassat of Studio Sway.

The life size pilot has been sponsored by and in collaboration with V&A Waterfront (Mark Noble/Franette Ventura) and Arup (Adam Ozinsky).

Thanks to the sponsorship of the following service providers:

Geustyn and Horak Aluminium

JoJo Tanks

Baloo Plumbers

Longspan Gutters

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