By ZURAH NAKABUGO
Easy Matatu a tech platform that uses minibus taxi drivers to provide transportation to passengers in Uganda and Africa at large, has started training its drivers on defensive driving skills to reduce dangers associated with driving.
Defensive driving techniques reduce the chances of accidents and can even save costs related to vehicle maintenance and fuel consumption, by driving safely and steadily. Easy Matatu targets to train about 50 drivers in the next three months.
“Defensive driving is a set of driving skills that allows you to defend yourself against possible collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers, and poor weather. If you look ahead and keep your eyes moving, you will spot potential hazards more easily,” the Chief Executive Officer at Easy Matatu Andrew Lema says.
Easy Matatu has also partnered by Masterdrive, a company located in South Africa to equip drivers with safety measures of defensive driving skills.
“If you keep the drivers happy and educate them on safety driving skills, you keep the passengers safe. Defensive driving techniques include drivers not becoming angry while driving, reducing speed to avoid injuring others, avoid drink driving and others,” Derek Wiekby, the training director Master Drive says.
Easy Matatu is currently working on three routes including Entebbe road, Jinja road up to Mukono and Kira – Najjera road. They will soon start operating on other routes like Namugongo, Port Bell, Gayaza, Kyanja and Kajjansi in the next three months.
“We collect passengers at the beginning of their journey, filling up and take them directly to their destinations. For over one and a half years, we have been collecting the data, where these routes are saving commuters up to 30 minutes a day by using alternative routes to beat the jam and reach on time,” Lema says.
He says, Easy Matatu beats the jam by using routes that are not affected by traffic jam and departure time optimization. They also save time by not stopping on the way and also use alternative routes like Express high way, Northern and Southern by pass routes which have no jam.
Lema says, the Easy Matatu charges are near to market rates, but the biggest benefit to their clients is that, their prices are stable in all seasons unlike the normal taxis which fluctuate transport fares during busy seasons and rush hours.
Easy Matatu APP
In order to use Easy Matatu, passengers have to book and pay for seats on scheduled rides after downloading, Easy Matatu App from the Google Play Store and the App store, on the mobile phones. For customers without smartphone, they dial the USSD code *284*28# at no extra cost to access the Matatu.
“After opening the Mobile App, you select the route, where you want to be picked and dropped. We have pick- up points along the routes, like petrol stations and locations known by people in that area,” he says.
Easy Matatu has also partnered with Turaco, an insurance tech company to offer affordable health insurance and medical cover to Matatu drivers and their families, and also guarantee the safest Matatu rides in East Africa.
“We focus on uninsured client since people’s lives are in the drivers’ hands,” Turaco representative Asinani Mulungi says.
He says, the partnership represent Easy Matatu’s mission to reform public transport in Africa by providing safer and more reliable rides to commuters while improving the lives of our driver-partners.
According to the 2020 Annual Crime Report released by the Uganda Police, 12,249 road accidents were registered, where 3,663 people died including passengers and drivers using either minibuses or motorcycles to commute.
According to a passenger, Easy Matatu easies the hassle they always go through trying to get a taxi to work or from work.
“I don’t use my cars most of time since Easy Matatu beats the jam by using decongested routes and this makes me reach my working place on time and also return home in time,” Prossy Nagujja says.
Muhammad says, since he started using easy Matatu, he reaches on time at his job and this has made him to be more productive at work.