In a first for the minibus taxi industry, commuters will be able to get access to free wi-fi as part of a new initiative by the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco).
Launched last month Wi-Taxi is already available in Gauteng and Santaco plans to introduce the initiative to more regions by the end of this year.
The initiative comes in response to the government’s call to improve the industry, by modernising it.
Bandwidth services for the project are being provided by Telkom in partnership with brand management company Telesure.
Wi-Taxi chief executive Brian Mdluli says each commuter will be allowed 50MB of data free per day to use within a range of over 1 000 access points, any time they commute on a taxi.
“We are very excited about the initiative.
The aim is to deliver the project to a national target of about 15 million commuters.
This puts entrepreneurs in the taxi industry in an advantageous position to grow their businesses,” says Mdluli.
Taxis would be fitted with access point devices for commuters to connect to.
Once they have connected their mobile devices to a taxi’s Wi-Fi system, passengers can use the internet in any rank or taxi they use for commuting.
When their quota of free 50 MB is used up, a message is sent to the user’s mobile device.
By sending the message, commuters will be given the option to buy more data.
Passengers are provided with secure usernames and passwords to protect their information and help them stay connected.
Mdluli says that there has been a positive response from taxi owners and workers with regards to this.
“We have had excellent support from the taxi industry. The project helps bring convenience to both the industry and its customers,” he says.
The project is expected to reach more than 50 Gauteng taxi ranks within the next six months and Mdluli expects the number of Wi-Taxi access points to increase to more than 4 000 in various parts of the country by 2017.
In Cape Town Lennox Miselo, chairman of the Congress for Democratic Taxi Association in Khayelitsha says taxi owners are excited by the project.
“We have already been notified by Santaco and commuters here have been asking us about it.
I am very excited to see the almost obvious increase in the number of commuters we will soon be getting in the long run,” he says.
The association’s president Philip Taaibosch says the first phase in Gauteng will take about six months to be rolled out.
The second phase will see the installation of between 4 000 and 5 000 Wi-Fi access points per month.
On expanding the project, Mdluli says, Santaco will also be targeting provinces like the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
“Key public transport routes such as those in Mitchell’s Plain, Bellville and Khayelitsha and Cape Town will benefit from the roll-out,” he says.
He hopes that the initiative will create “viable” economic growth within these regions and adds that Santaco is open to suggestions on where to take the project to next.
The taxi council expects the entire project to be completed within the next three years.
- Go to www.witaxi.co.za for more information.