24-year-old ensuring safety via TaxiConnect

A Namibian app for the safety of Namibians

24 July 2020 | People

MICHELLINE NAWATISES

TaxiConnect is a locally developed ride-hailing company founded in April 2020. TaxiConnect offers an interactive and smart technology of taxi booking for customers and taxis on track management for taxi owners in Namibia. A team of five members deal with management, technical, finance, driver support and customer support.

This programme is a platform for Namibian public taxis that are registered with the relevant authorities to operate online via a provided mobile application.

Reinhold Shiwagala is the founder of TaxiConnect and manages the company’s operations, growing the business and making sure the business vision and objectives are met.

Back in 2018 Shiwagala’s parents promised him that if he got his driver’s licence, he could drive their car whenever he wanted and that motivated him to get his driver’s licence. A few months later when he finally passed his driver’s test after failing three times, it didn’t go as promised.

“My dad congratulated me on the achievement and told me to work hard so I could soon drive my own car, and he made it clear that he would give me taxi money when he could if I needed to go out. But just not with their car,” he recalls.

This disappointment led him to suck it up and move on. Shiwagala had part-time classes at the University of Namibia and getting a taxi late at night was always inconvenient.

“It bothered me so much that even in a taxi rank filled with so many taxis, it was still a hustle to find one willing to take me and many other students home safely,” he says.

Lightbulb moment

One evening he came home and started brainstorming how he could do something to make the taxi sector safer and more convenient, yet affordable for everyone. If he was experiencing this fear of being robbed or even hurt and many having been victims, there needed to be a solution for these gaps in our taxi sector.

He decided to take this bold initiative and started working on finding the solution for a year, funding his research, trials and errors with funds he received from his side hustle.

“I started to keep the research going and to make it a reality to help thousands people experiencing the same thing.”

The more Shiwagala worked on the concept, the clearer it became and the more passionate he became about improving the safety and convenience of our public transportation sector.

How the app works

First, download the TaxiConnect mobile app on Google Play store and sign up. Once you've signed up to TaxiConnect, everything takes place through the app. When you sign up, you'll need to provide your full name, a mobile number and email address, and grant access to your location.

Customers submit a trip request that is automatically sent to a TaxiConnect partner taxi driver in the area. The accepting taxi driver will then pick you up and drive you to your requested destination.

The TaxiConnect app automatically figures out the navigational route for the taxi driver, calculates the distance, shows the taxi fare and transfers payment to the driver via your selected payment method, without you having to say a word or grab your wallet.

Taxiconnect offers cashless payments via Connect Wallet, so forget about unnecessary stops looking for the correct change. All you have to do is top up your Connect Wallet and Taxiconnect will handle the rest.

Safety policy

Taxiconnect recognises that every time people use the TaxiConnect app, they're putting their trust in the technology not only to connect them with a safe and reliable taxi but to also give them resources in case of emergency.

Before any taxi can drive with TaxiConnect, they must undergo a multi-step safety screening, including a check whether the driver and car are registered with all relevant authorities or even whether the driver has a criminal record.

In addition, the technology helps keep your phone number private. Your phone number is only seen by the taxi driver who has accepted your request. Once a trip is completed, the app protects customers’ information by concealing specific pickup and drop-off addresses in a driver’s trip history. When a driver accepts your trip, you'll see their name, licence plate, taxi ID, photo, car photo, and a temporary cellphone number. You'll be able to follow your taxi on the built-in map until they arrive at your pick up and when on a trip, you can follow your trip in real time. TaxiConnect support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Facts about Reinhold Shiwagala

*He started his first business at age 13.

*He speaks German.

*One of his biggest passions is to empower the youth through exposure.

*Reinhold made N$400 every month by taking out bins and cleaning complex yards from age 13.