By Mbali Tanana
Finally a local taxi operator with a national footprint has a taxi-hire app up and running – ready to use, just a tap away.
The Ntuza application is the brainchild of Mdantsane-born Eugene “Ntuza” Ntuthuzelo Mfaka CEO of Eugene’s Executive Shuttle, who has spent more than a year working on the project.
In addition to making hiring a private driver easy, the application, which on a smartphone is used to hail taxis from the Ntuza fleet, also offers ambulance services through Alderson Ambulances, and has a database of all registered traditional nurses, in a bid to reduce the number of deaths among initiates as a result of botched circumcisions.
The long-awaited application was launched at the East London International Convention Centre on Friday where key transport stakeholders, partners and sponsors pledged their support.
Stakeholders included East London car dealers Honda, Ronnies Motors and associate sponsor Suzuki, from whom Mfaka purchased four of his fleet vehicles.
Mfaka, a civil engineer by profession currently pursuing his masters, said he had no idea what would happen in his life when he resigned from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation, where he had been working as a project manager.
“Understandably my wife had many insecurities about me resigning because she was unemployed at the time, and did not let me quit my job until I had a plan,” he said.
“When I tabled my ideas, I won. Everything was driven by faith. I traded in my bakkie for a Mercedes-Benz, which I started [Eugene’s Executive Shuttle] with, and by the end of that year I already had five of these vehicles from Ronnies, and I had a turnover of about R30000 a month. It has just grown from strength to strength since.”
Alderson Ambulances public relations manager Ayanda Mbango said they were happy to be working with the Ntuza app, as it could help them penetrate more communities.
“The partnership makes sense because we work with people and transportation, and the security features of the application can help us respond to genuine calls as opposed to the many hoax calls, which waste our time,” he said.
Acting visible policing commander at the East London police station, Lieutenant Colonel Jongisizwe Manyisani echoed those sentiments. “I wish our institution could adapt this technology for our call centres because it could save us from the challenge of responding to hoax calls. It can help police respond promptly, knowing instantly who is calling and from which location.
“Many members are pedestrians and desperate for transportation. You find they end up utilising the many unregistered vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers,” he said, adding that using unregulated taxis meant police could become victims of crimes such as kidnapping.
“This app will reduce crime and human trafficking because passengers know before they board the vehicle who is collecting them and what the vehicle’s registration is.”
Programme director Putco Mafani of Putco Mafani Consulting, which co-ordinated the launch of the app, said he was proud to be part of the initiative.
The app allows users to choose the vehicle they would like to transport them, and gives the price for the trip before the driver collects them.
“It’s a transport system that the people of South Africa can relate to and it speaks to the needs of our people, which is why the community needs to own it and support it. We should all be very proud; big ups to Ntuza,” he said. — firstname.lastname@example.org