GTaxi Zimbabwe is a classy, brand new app offering on-demand cab service in Zimbabwe. The startup aims to bring both “convenience and predictability” to the local taxi industry where traditional operators are not delivering both quality service and affordability to travelers.
GTaxi launched three weeks ago in Harare, and founders say the company is already planning to make a swift expansion into Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. At the March 31, 2016 launch, the startup unveiled its app that runs on both Android and iOS platforms.
First impression: great technical functionality
The app is simply designed and beautiful, themed with the black and white colors of the GTaxi logo. Its UI allows a user to tap the “G” home button on the screen, after which the app determines the client’s location.
After confirming the order, the app provides the customer with the vehicle license plate digits, as well as the driver’s contact details (this can only be interpreted as a security measure.)
The app then provides a fare estimate, based on the distance to be covered, and dispatches the nearest cab to the client while providing real-time status of the vehicle location.
When their cab arrives, the customer receives a notification on their mobile device.
All of this is great, innovative stuff supporting a system that at least in theory looks like it could be patronized by, and bring convenience to, even the most VIP clients (yes, Obama, I’m looking forward to your arrival in Harare.)
Certainly Not Uber
GTaxi managers have differentiated themselves from popular models in their line of business, such as Uber. Even if the highly-disruptive American startup were to set up shop in Zimbabwe, GTaxi would not consider them as competition.
According to the team:
“We are not working in the same markets [as Uber]. Technologically we have some functionality that Uber doesn’t, such as an ability to pre-order a vehicle in advance for a specific time, and an ability to pay in cash – and the latter is dictated by the local market conditions.”
That cash-paying option is great, and fits well with the reality that although the Zimbabwean market is often dogged by liquidity challenges, cash is still the primary means of exchange in a country whose population is yet to take up credit and debit cards en masse. But cash fortunately isn’t the only option on the GTaxi menu, because the service also allows credit and debit card payments.
A standardized army of cars
GTaxi says their fleet is “exceptional,” and it’s kind of hard to dispute. The company’s launch came with a a fleet of fifteen Toyota Camry vehicles, according to sources, while company information shows an even wider range of vehicles:
Adds the GTaxi team:
“We offer our own standardized fleet, as we believe the local market isn’t ready for an Uber-like outsourcing model.”
It’s not clear how exactly Zimbabwean market is not ready for the outsourcing approach, given the multitude of under-utilized mshika mshikas on and off the roads in Harare, but we’ll give GTaxi a benefit of the doubt as they seem to have bothered with doing bottom-up research in just about every other aspect of their business.
“The rest of the taxi operators in Zimbabwe don’t offer 24/7 dispatcher service, in-app ordering, safety measures such as GPS tracking and in-vehicle cameras, and the quality of the fleet that can match ours.”
I also find these claims fathomable, as the quality of the fleet has already been confirmed anecdotally to us by two different people who have used GTaxi and found its service to be a cut above the rest. Indeed, with have over 1200 app downloads and over 100 unique users after only the first month of operation, the startup has really hit the ground running.
“The good news is that almost everyone who has tried the service once has become a regular customer,” a company representative said.
GTaxi thus looks like a welcome addition to the solutions we currently have on the market for transportation, handy and offering a comfortable, classy experience whenever the family car is broken, when out late having loads of fun, or when hosting big events and business functions – especially those that have some international scope – where certain important individuals have to be ferried in a classy business-class vehicle from a reliable service provider.
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