Fuel and foreign currency shortages have remained steadfast despite efforts to curtail them. Fuel price hikes have escalated to a point where they’re to be expected weekly. All these incessant fuel price hikes haven’t really helped alleviate fuel shortages in the country. It isn’t just fuel inadequacy but also the prices which are getting steeper and steeper. With the price of fuel per litre intent on reaching the ZWL$10 mark, it’s becoming unreachable for many people. So what can be done to address these two stubborn problems namely, fuel shortages and foreign currency shortages? Vaya is proposing a way which they feel could help fix these two problems.

Vaya Africa

Let’s just breakdown what Vaya is for those of you who might not be aware. Vaya Africa which falls under Cassava Smartech (a subsidiary of Econet Global), specializes in ride-hailing services. Their service that many people are familiar with is Vaya Lift, which is similar to the popular Uber. They do have several other unique services such as Vaya Shuttle, Vaya Club, Vaya Hooper and Vaya Carpool. Basically, Vaya Africa is looking to disrupt the mass transportation industry through the provision of ride-hailing services.

Vaya Carpool And Vaya Shuttle

Vaya is saying that these 2 services can be the answer to the current fuel and foreign currency crisis. That’s why they have recently started intensifying their operations regarding those services. Their rationale is that these services will lead to a decrease in vehicle traffic through the facilitation of ride-sharing. These sentiments were shared by Vaya’s CEO Mrs Dorothy Zimuto.

Vaya Carpool

Mrs Zimuto said that this service will cost 50% less than the usual Vaya premium service. The system is designed in such a way that it searches for 2 other passengers within a radius of half a kilometre. Not more than 3 adult passengers will be allowed per car. She also indicated that it’ll be possible for cars to be scheduled via company accounts. This will enable businesses to pay for their senior staff.

Vaya Shuttle

Vaya Shuttle has two separate services which are Vaya Corporate Shuttle and Vaya School Shuttle. Vaya School Shuttle is in the pipeline and shall be launched soon. Pilot runs (catering for Econet staff) for this service are already underway. She pointed out that minibuses and kombis that’ll be used for this service have been thoughtfully chosen. They have been ascertained to be roadworthy plus they’ll be furnished with Wi-Fi. Drivers will be subjected to a rating system that’ll ensure proper handling of passengers and responsible driving are upheld. Failure to adhere to these standards will lead to a driver being suspended from using the service platform.

Intended Outcomes

The 2 services just discussed are meant to promote a culture where people leave their cars at home. This will be aimed at making people use their cars less frequently – probably just during weekends. All this will be made possible by ride-sharing. If these services are embraced and spread all across the nation then 2 things will happen. Firstly, fuel consumption will go down and that’ll mean less foreign currency being used for fuel procurement thus making the foreign currency more available. Vaya is confident of this based on the fact that 20 000 vehicles countrywide are already registered on their platform. In order to roll out these services effectively, they’re in the process of striking strategic partnerships with fuel suppliers. These engagements are aimed at endeavouring to get priority fuel access for their drivers on the platform.

In principle what they’re proposing is logical and noble. It remains to be seen how things will turn out considering that there are quite a number of factors to look at. Power shortages and the rising cost of being online might have significant unfavourable effects on the use of their apps. It also seems that mobile network service providers are struggling to guarantee consistent and quality network all the time. So these are some of the possible challenges that might come in the way. I guess with time we’ll see how they fare in light of the harsh operating environment the country currently finds itself in. Kudos to the Vaya team and all the best in their efforts to bring sustainable tech-based solutions to current challenges.