For most taxi commuters in South Africa, the front seat next to the driver is one of the worst spots to sit. This is because you’re obligated to count every passenger’s paid fare, give them their change and give the driver his loot as well, without making mistakes.
This may sound simple enough, but when you have many hands tapping your shoulder all at once to give you taxi fare and you still have to count at the same time, it can get overwhelming. One young developer however, thinks his app can help solve this dilemma.
Phamibili, which means “front” in isiZulu, is a simple taxi fare calculator for whenever you get tripped up while counting taxi fare, especially when it’s an odd number or has an additional 50c charge to it.
In some places around the country, such as in parts of Soweto, fare is charged according to where you board a taxi (these are zones determined by the taxi association).
For example, two people from different zones going to Maponya Mall who board the same taxi that goes along their nearest route will not pay the same amount. The further you are from the mall, the more you pay.
What makes the counting process in such a scenario complicated is when the two commuters both pay using one note, for example R100, and specify that one is paying a different amount from the other. The front seat passenger has to work out how much change to give them and how much money the driver is supposed to get if there are many passengers who boarded from different zones.
You can use Phambili to work out how much collective fare from a certain number of people is supposed to be, how much change to give them (broken down to exact notes and coins) and how much to give the driver.
This first-of-its-kind service was created by Thokozani Memela, who said he drew inspiration from a previous personal experience.
“I recently missed out on an opportunity because someone in the front of the taxi struggled doing a job most people hate, counting change,” Memela said on Facebook. “I know it’s my fault that I was late but my mind will forever blame that sweet lady. I decided to create a web app that will help people young and old do a job which is hated nationwide, ‘Ukuhlala Phambili’.”
Memela said Phambili will in future collect information on taxi fares in different locations from taxi associations and community members. It’ll then add it to the app so commuters who are new to the area or are using a taxi for the first time can find out how much it will cost them to reach a certain destination.
Now, if only there was an app that could make drivers behave better on the roads.