A new app is promising to change the face of the traditionally chaotic matatu sector.
The MobiTill Epesi Smart Transport app, developed by Data Integrated, provides a wide range of services. These include passenger counting and security cameras, geo-fencing that monitors if the matatu is on non-designated routes, and real-time reports that help owners to manage their fleet.
The cameras monitor passengers boarding the matatu and are linked to the ticketing system to ensure their numbers match the receipts issued.
One or two cameras can be installed at either door depending on the size of the bus.
People monitoring them can also alert police officers when suspicious actions like carjacking or bullying are noted inside the buses, thus improving security.
The trackers send mobile phone alerts when the vehicles take non-designated routes, besides showing the number of trips made.
According to the founder and Chief Executive officer, Mary Mwangi the solution can rein in on rogue crew because owners can always call in case the matatus are spotted on non-designated routes.
It is also sealing the accountability loopholes that have for years seen owners lose thousands of shillings daily.
Ms Mwangi says the company is building trust solutions and security for the fleet owners, crew and their passengers.
“At some point the (matau) owner gets short-changed as they don’t get what they deserve at the end of the day,” Ms Mwangi told Market Place.
The hardware is installed inside the matatu and remotely monitored through a mobile phone application, enabling owners to get real-time information through a centralised dashboard.
Data Integrated, located in Industrial Area, Nairobi, currently offers cash and mobile payments but is in advanced stage of launching its Epesi Tap & Pay electronic card.
The firm also provides a scheduling system to meet the two-matatus-per-sacco rule in Nairobi’s central business district. This enables saccos to map and queue their buses in a single electronic dashboard and ensure only two access the city centre at any one time.
A complete pack comprising two cameras, a PDQ Machine and one tracker costs Sh65,000.
Data Integrated imports the software from China but assemble the trackers locally.
City Shuttle is already using the solution while Kenya Bus Service and Zuri sacco are piloting it.
The firm is currently working with the National Police Service and National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to set up a control centre.
“This centre will be a defining step in improving security for both passengers and the matatu crew, through real-time interventions by law enforcers in case of carjacking and even incidents of sexual molestation of women in deserted matatus,” Ms Mwangi says.
The firm also has a payroll Integration system that helps matatu crew submit their NSSF and NHIF contributions.
Through Sh50 savings daily, the driver and conductor can each get the Sh500 needed for NHIF cover.
Almost seven years down the line since she started offering solutions to the transport sector, Ms Mwangi has few regrets. She has however faced a number of challenges in her quest to revolutionise the matatu industry.
“Some matatu crew once cut off the wiring connection to the battery in efforts to disable the camera, hours after they had been installed on a Saturday,” she says.