Taxi to the future

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SHE SQUEEZES past the other commuters and settles into her seat before taking out her cellphone and SMSing: “Hello Sisi, guess what?” Seconds later her phone beeps in reply and she giggles: “I’m chatting to you from the taxi,” she types. “And it’s free!”

Unable to conceal her excitement, Anele Mthimkhulu (32), a beautician from Cosmo City, Johannesburg, nudges the man next to her and shows him her SMS conversation. And his amazement also soon turns to laughter.

Anele spends about R350 per month on internet data on her cellphone. “I chat to all my clients via WhatsApp when they want to make bookings or cancellations,” she explains. “But sometimes I run out of data. It’s not easy to top up unless there’s a tuck shop nearby.”

Internet access is crucial for Anele’s business, so she was delighted to hear about Wi-Taxi – a high-tech initiative launched in June by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in partnership with Telkom mobile and a private technology company, Wi-Taxi South Africa.

Launched in June, the WI-TAXI initiative helps commuters like Anele stay connected while they’re travelling – and also when they’re queuing at taxi ranks.

Read more in DRUM – 10 July, 2014.

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