Zimbabwe Taxi Industry Technological Transformations

The advent of taxi-hailing mobile applications has completely transformed the transport industry in Zimbabwe, particularly Harare by easing the taxi booking process, offering convenience and ensuring the safety of passengers. However, some drivers who are still used to traditional methods and are not digital savvy are finding themselves struggling to cope with the new developments.

Envision calling a taxi with the swiftness of a click, convenience of a tap and ease of a swipe. This is what taxi hailing mobile applications such as InDrive, RidaTaxi, Vaya and Yangu are offering- a seamless way of moving from one point to the other without the hustle of running around the street knocking on taxi windows only to negotiate over a fare with a headstrong taxi driver.

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These taxi hailing applications are not only convenient but easy to use for both the passenger and taxi driver. Firstly, the user or passenger has to download the application then install it in their mobile device. After successful instillation, the user creates an account by entering details such as name, email and mobile number. To call a taxi, the passenger has to enter their location and the location of their desired destination. With a click, application automatically calculates the distance and presents to the passenger the fare price. It also gives the passenger various options of drivers in the nearby vicinity. The beauty part of these applications is that the passenger can negotiate a price. Upon selecting the desired driver, the passenger receives a call from the driver to arrange for the pick-up. It is really travelling convenience on your fingertips.

As a taxi driver, setting up the application is also easy. The taxi driver has to download the application from google play store and install it. After the instillation process, the driver applies by entering documents containing vehicle information among other personal details. This ensures the safety of the passengers as each driver becomes traceable. In using the application, the driver has to be online so as to receive notifications from passengers nearby. The application also provides the driver with a google map to ease the navigation process when driving.

“These applications are convenient in terms of navigation” testified one driver who uses InDrive; “The application provides me with a map that directs me to the client’s destination. Harare is big, sometimes I do not even know some places that clients request me to take them but with the use of these applications, I am now confident in my driving”

Most people are embracing this new technological advancement. The taxi-hailing mobile applications have dismissed the inconvenience of waiting in the rain or blazing sun for a taxi that may never come. No more keeping contacts of taxi drivers who are not consistent making you wait for an hour claiming they are almost there to pick you up. No more paying exorbitant fares on short distances as taxi drivers take advantage of the desperation of some people.

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“The taxi-hailing mobile applications are convenient in making me easily find a ride at cheaper price, especially during the night. They also ensure my safety as I will not have to go around the street looking for a taxi” said Michael, one of the regular users of the mobile application.

In support of this; Diana another regular user of this application stated that; “I enjoy using the application because it gives me the advantage of paying a fair price. Sometimes I can even negotiate a price using my application”

Despite these positive impacts, this shift has some negative impacts upon other taxi operators. Some of the taxi drivers who are of an old age are finding challenges with navigating and using the applications for their businesses.

“I am not good at using smartphones or technical staff such as using an application, I do no know how to use these applications” said Mr Mutasa, an elderly taxi driver. “I think these applications are more beneficial to the children of younger generations.”

This advancement is detrimental to some taxi drivers. Especially those taxi drivers who have been in the industry for a long time and have built connections with customers. These taxi drivers heavily rely on the loyalty of their customers as they are called by their customers whenever their service is needed. However, the taxi-hailing mobile applications have disturbed this order as some of these customers are now preferring mobile applications do to their convenience and ease of use.

“I have lost a huge number of once loyal customers since the coming of these applications. The problem is sometimes I get a call from a client whilst I am 20 minutes away, other than waiting for me like the customers previously did, they now simply use the applications to hire another driver” commended Joshua, a Harare taxi driver.

This impact and rising popularity of these ride applications in the Zimbabwean taxi industry is a reflection of the digital revolution occurring not only in Zimbabwe but globally. The traditional taxi industry in Zimbabwe is being silently forced to evolve. The advancements in technology require industries to evolve and adapt as development in necessary. This not only applies to the taxi industry but numerous industries as well.

The convenient ride-hailing applications have highlighted the need for taxi drivers to adapt to the technological advancements to remain competitive in the industry. However, it is crystal clear that this technological advancement is here to stay and the future of Zimbabwean transport will be shaped by technological advancements and innovations.

By Mathew M.T Magwarada

<p>The post Zimbabwe Taxi Industry Technological Transformations first appeared on Dandaro Online.</p>