The country could soon have its own Uber-like service with the local development of the “SmartGo mobile application”.
According to its developers, SmartGo allows travellers to book for transport, taxi or long distance transport service at the click of a button.
Co-founder Prosper Nyamukondiwa said the initiative came after realising the harassment travellers, especially women, are subjected to by touts.
As such, SmartGo should bring convenience to travellers as well as security, as passengers are notified of details about their driver as well as registration numbers.
Currently biased towards long distances, along the Harare Bulawayo route, SmartGo links passengers with transport service providers.
On the application, one registers as a user or driver. For passengers, all they need is to book for a particular date and time, pick up point, destination, the number of people who they are travelling with as well as the amount of luggage.
The administrator instantly approves the passenger’s request by linking them up with the available transport service providers.
“We were moved by the current disorder within our transport system, which subjects’ women and children to harassment. With this application, the vulnerable are safe from tout’s hooliganism,” said Nyamukondiwa.
To date, SmartGo has 200 transport service providers signed up. These are local taxi drivers as well as long distance operators and plans are underway to engage more established bus operators.
Nyamukondiwa said the uptake has been commendable, and more awareness programmes could boost the business.
“We have highway transporters registered on our system. They see it as good business because they can ascertain the number of people they are travelling with at specific times,” he said.
It is also an opportunity for individuals with under-utilised vehicles or who are in need of earning extra money to provide the service to passengers.
Currently, SmartGo processes around 80 requests and the number balloons during month-ends when there is more traffic across the country.
Nyamukondiwa said prospects were bright for SmartGo adding with support from relevant authorities and awareness programmes this could bring a solution to the chaos especially in the central business districts where illegal operators popularly known as mushika-shika are a menace to people.
He added the application is one of the many information communication technology (ICT) that can bring solutions to some of our society’s challenges.
The developers of SmartGo, like several other local developers who have come up with fascinating technologies, have hit onto something bigger than the stuff they have developed.