- The safety of ride-hailing services has always been a cause for concern for South African women.
- Nomcebo Vilakazi started working for Bolt as part of her dream to get into transportation services.
- With safety concerns being rife, she says women can use in-app safety features to help protect themselves.
E-Hailing services have been around for a while now in South Africa and with each new one that joins, South Africans have safety concerns.
Over the years, e-hailing users, especially women, have grown apprehensive about using these services because of safety issues - from male drivers taking dodgy routes to physically harming passengers.
This led to growing calls from women passengers for e-hailing services to introduce the option of choosing a woman driver for their trips. One such woman who is helping women feel safe is Nomcebo Precious Vilakazi, who joined Bolt in 2020 as a way to realise her dreams of getting into and owning her own transportation services.
Speaking to TRUELOVE, Nomcebo tells us how she started working for Bolt and her experience as a woman Bolt driver.
“I started in 2020, during lockdown because I had a lot of free time as we were working from home so I had a lot of time to do it even during the day”
“Before Bolt and these other e-hailing services, it was always my dream to go into transportation, transporting people, kids and all those kinds of things. At some stage, back in the day, I wanted to also join the taxi industry and have my own taxis. As time went on, I decided to do school transportation then the Bolt thing came along and I saw that it’s safer and will generate more income for me,” she says.
Unfortunately, the country we live in is not the safest for women, young or old. In addition to that, when e-hailing services first came on the scene, taxi drivers and meter taxi drivers were not pleased and would intimidate the e-hailing drivers, to the point of getting violent.
However, Vilakazi says although she is a woman driver who works in the evenings after she knocks off from her 9-5, she has never found herself in a dangerous situation.
“I’ve never been in a situation where but I heard that there is an SOS button that you press and they [Bolt] will send their security to the area where you are who will come and assist you when you’ve been stopped by the meter taxi drivers and the likes,” she shares.
In addition to that, Nomcebo also encourages drivers to take heed of a document that they have access to, distributed by the taxis, that lists no-go areas and while not ideal, it is for one’s personal safety.
“There’s a document that those taxi people will give you to tell you which areas not to go to. So, as a person, you know the no-go areas and the areas where you can pick up and areas where you can do drop off and some areas you can’t do both,” she explains.
On how riders can ensure they get a woman driver, Nomcebo advises that upon requesting, one should ensure they select a woman driver from the option of available drivers that will pop up. However, this is subject to their availability in your area because there aren’t many female Bolt drivers yet.
Safety tips from Nomcebo:
For the women drivers, she says:
- Use the Driver SOS button when in danger - the driver’s details and location are shared with Namola’s 24/7 call centre if they activate the button if they are in distress.
- Check the rider's pick-up and drop-off location
- Check if it’s a cash or card trip - cash trips tend to be from criminals, especially if they are long
- Check how many rides the person has
- Bolt introduced the Bolt Protect category, which sees the installation of a Perspex barrier between the driver and passenger. These security screens are there to provide maximum safety and are specifically customised for individual vehicle makes and models.
For the women riders:
- Driver verification - check the drivers details, profile and background on the app
- Check how many trips they’ve done
- Ensure that you share your trip with a loved one
- Ensure that you communicate your ETA with a loved one
- Use the passenger SOS button, your details and location are shared with Namola’s 24/7 call centre if you activate the button if you feel unsafe or are in distress while on a ride
- Driver ratings - passengers are encouraged to rate their driver after every trip.
- Bolt Trip Protection - there's insurance cover that provides for emergency medical expenses, permanent disability and accidental death, and, for Bolt passengers and drivers caused by accident and/or crime while on a Bolt trip.
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