Two IT geeks out to end taxi-moto accidents

At the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali’s causality ward, Raymond Karamage, 26, is lying on a bed; his heavily bandaged left leg in a suspended position supported by cords.
SafeMotos is aiming at reducing the road carnage caused by moto taxi riders. (Courtesy)
SafeMotos is aiming at reducing the road carnage caused by moto taxi riders. (Courtesy)

At the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali’s causality ward, Raymond Karamage, 26, is lying on a bed; his heavily bandaged left leg in a suspended position supported by cords.

Karamage, a taxi-moto operator, was on his way from Shyorongi to Kigali when he sustained an ankle and thigh bone fracture following a head-on collision with a car.

This resident of Nyabugogo suburb, a Kigali city suburb, went into coma for a week. Before undergoing ankle repair surgery and similar procedure for his broken thigh bone.

Karamage is just one of the growing numbers of victims of motor-taxi accidents which are largely attributed to over speeding, recklessness and riding under the influence of drugs.

Statistics released by the Rwanda National Police (RNP) in October last year, show that 204 road accidents were caused by motorcyclists in August 2014, across the country, and that 176 of them were within Kigali.

Indeed, a visit to hospitals in the city suburbs reveals a worrisome situation.

At Kibagabaga Hospital in Gasabo District, Ferdinand Ngabonziza, 24, a security guard working with Intersec, lies in the emergency and accidents ward, with a broken left leg, bruised right hand and face.

“I had stopped at the roadside in Ndera sector to speak to a friend when a rider lost control crashing my bicycle and causing these injuries to me,” he said.

Ngabonziza was referred to Rwanda Military Hospital for orthopedic surgery after undergoing a leg scan.

ICT startup out to end road carnage

SafeMotos is a start-up business in Kigali that is working to make every moto taxi ride safer and convenient for passengers.

It was founded by two City of Kigali residents, Barrett Nash and Peter Kariuki, who confess that they too have been exposed to risks associated with taxi moto rides.

They explained that the biggest danger to passengers at the moment was that they have no idea about the quality of the taxi moto riders whose services they hire. Whether the moto rider is on his first day on the job cannot be known to a customer.

With SafeMotos, a customer simply instructs the app where they want to be picked up from, indicate the destination and then choose a star rating for the quality of a driver. This will cost more to be able to get a good quality and experienced rider, but in addition to safety, there is added advantage of the convenience of being picked up from anywhere.

Nash and Kariuki’s innovation recently paid off when an Irish startup accelerator, Carma AXLR8R, heard about the concept. After a lengthy vetting process, Carma invested in SafeMotos last December and has given them a position in their accelerator where they will be collaborating with a talented product development team, benefiting from a global mentorship network and gaining access to additional investment opportunities.

The team behind Carma AXLR8R has also announced a $1 million prize to the first company which makes use of Carma technology, as SafeMotos does, and also has its app being used by 10,000 moto taxi riders daily.

SafeMotos co-founder and CEO Barrett Nash says that SafeMotos is ideally placed to meet the needs of the market.

“SafeMotos is looking to work with the huge, already existing market of moto riders. Instead of starting from zero, we need to work with just a small percentage of Kigali’s taxi moto drivers to pilot the project and then gradually roll out to other areas.”

Nash believes Rwanda is a good place to develop technologies that can positively impact the developing world.

With relative ease of doing business, the rule of law, enormous investment in ICT infrastructure and passionate dedication to ICT, innovative businesses can be built here in Rwanda then expand to other markets.

With companies like SafeMotos, getting international investment and attracting globally minded entrepreneurs, it is becoming clear that Rwanda is on course to transform itself into an ICT hub.

 

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