Taxi-motos go digital, here are 5 things you should know

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Starting Saturday, August 15, taxi motos will phase out cash based payment and adopt digital payment platforms. All passenger motorcycles will be required to have a smart meter, which determines how much a client pays.

The GPS-enabled meter will allow three different modes of digital payment: MTN Momo Pay, Airtel Money and Tap&Go cards.

As of Friday August 14 at least 21,600 of the estimated 26,000 taxi moto operators in Kigali had bought the taximeters, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA).

There are about 46,000 grouped in 146 cooperatives, which are grouped under their Federation, FERWACOTAMO.

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Three companies, namely AC Group, Pascal Technologies and Yego Moto were authorised by RURA to power the fleet of motorcycles with the technology.

The move is seen as a game-changer in Rwanda’s ambitious plans of becoming a digital economy and establishing smart cities.

As the move is being implemented these are some of the things that you know about it.

1. What motivated the move?

The decision to modernise the sector was approved by the cabinet in July last year. It is part of the national motorcycle transport strategy intended to set up a digital payments system, following the success story on public buses with Tap and Go cards.

According to AC Group, there are about 2 million Tap & Go cards in circulation in Kigali.

“Kigali is a smart city,” said Anthony Kulamba, Head of Transport Division in RURA, referring to the transformation journey from messy mini-buses to enormous, cashless commuters dedicated to different zones.

To him, the GPS-enabled devices will provide RURA with accurate data, which will inform decision making on industry policy.

“Data is wealth,” he adds.

The importance of data was reiterated by Malik Shaffy, Chief Operations Officer of Tap & Go-Ride, a subsidiary of AC Group.

“We will be collecting transport data, monetary data and safety data,” he said, explaining that the meter would record every journey, how much the rider earns per day and the passengers’ preferred mode of payment.

2. Can the new system reduce road accidents?

Traffic report by the Rwanda National Police indicates that in 2019 there were 184 fatalities caused by motorcycle accidents countrywide. About half of moto accidents occur in Kigali city.

Since the meters are GPS-enabled, they provide speed data in real-time. For instance, the device supplier will be able to know when a particular motorist over speeds. He said that the system would be expanded to send notifications to the over speeding rider.

Also, there is a plan to rank motorists according to their traffic behaviour, an exercise that would inspire them to strive for safer service.

3. What are the benefits to motorists?

According to Daniel Ngarambe, the President of FERWACOTAMO, the business has been operating in a mess, with unlicensed motorists whose misconduct was casting the image of the entire industry in a negative light.

Ngaramge believes the new system will restore public trust and integrity of motorists.

“Most importantly, we will be able to access bank loans by proving our monthly earnings as collateral,” added Ngarambe.

Taxi moto operators will pay for the meter for two years and thereafter receive a new one. The old metre will be turned into a smartphone.

This, Ngarambe said, will contribute to the number of Rwandans who own smartphones.

4. What’s in it for passengers?

The use of smart meters will save passengers time and erase the hurdle of bargaining which, according to RURA’s Kulamba, often resulted in unfair pricing or misunderstanding.

Shaffy of AC Group assured that consumer data will be secure. By paying either with Tap & Go card or to a mobile money business account, the motorists will not access the client’s personal information such as telephone number or names.

5. What is the tariff?

For the first two kilometres of the journey, a passenger will pay Rwf300. Each additional kilometre will be charged Rwf133. The passenger is allowed 10 minutes of waiting time free of charge, while each extra minute will be charged Rwf21.

Shaffy, however, noted that prices might vary a bit from what clients were used to, going a little low for some journeys or a little high for others

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