By Joel Tsvakwi
A BULWAYO-based software entity, Turvel Pvt (Ltd), has launched an automated intercity carpooling service dubbed Turvel App.
Carpooling is a practice of sharing a car on a trip with more than one person travels together thereby sharing costs.
The concept is well organised in developed countries and has a host of benefits chief among them reducing traffic jams and air pollution.
Launched last Friday, the carpooling service is coming in with a difference by allowing drivers to charge own fares giving them control on how much money they make.
In what could be a game changer on the whole aspect of travelling and buoyed by the now prevalent online lifestyle, commuters will be buying tickets online in the comfort of their homes and thus avoiding hitchhiking and queuing at bus terminuses.
The Turvel App is the brainchild of Hope Ndlovu, founder and CEO of Turvel Pvt (Ltd), who was born and bred in Bulawayo.
Ndlovu studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard University in the US
Through his startup company, Ndlovu participated on the TechCrunch Disrupts Startup Battlefield pitch competition held from September 14-18.
The competition is traditionally held in San Francisco, US. However, this year’s edition was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tuverl Pvt (Ltd) was one of 20 teams selected from across the world to pitch at this year’s Startup Battlefield.
Ndlovu told Standard Style that the motive behind the new app was to ease transport problems with regard to observing Covid-19 restrictions.
“Tuverl is an app that seeks to make transportation cheaper, reliable and more accessible to millions of commuters across African countries, by helping operators reduce operational inefficiencies, optimise their routes and increase their revenue,” Ndlovu said.
“Tuverl leverages cloud computing, data analytics, geolocation, and fintech to improve and optimise public transport and how commuters in African countries pay for it, starting with Zimbabwe.”
Mooted from the efforts to have home-grown information communication technologies to proffer solutions to some of the daily life activities this was largely persuasive in the birth of this application.
“In most African countries, public transport is an industry that is run by private companies,” he said.
“There are millions of small to medium enterprises and individuals, whose buses, minibuses and individual cars operate without any schedules or timetables.
“This makes public transport very unreliable to commuters, who lose valuable productive time while waiting for transportation or in transit, as a result.
“Drivers also waste time, fuel, and man hours trying to locate commuters along their designated routes or park in one place waiting for commuters to find them.”
The Covid-19 pandemic despite its catastrophic effects has brought its share of advantages which lead people to think outside the box to come up with applications which mankind had not ever imagined.
“The Covid-19 era came with new and many challenges for commuters as public transportation was grounded by the government to minimise non-essential movement and reduce the risk of exposing the public to the coronavirus. This left people who do not own their own vehicles with few to no options for safe essential travel,” said Ndlovu.
According to Ndlovu, while some have welcomed the reintroduction of Zupco as the public transport, there have numerous complaints about long queues due to shortage of buses.
“After assessing these challenges in the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tuverl went on to develop its intercity carpooling service that is meant to make travelling safer, easier and cheaper during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“After downloading and signing up on the Tuverl App, commuters can search for peer-to-peer trips that originate from a city or town of theirs choosing to another city or town in Zimbabwe. They can pay for these trips using mobile money payments such as EcoCash, OneMoney and Telecash. We plan to support more payment methods in due course.”
The Turvel App allows transport owners to register with the company’s protocols.
“On the Tuverl App, users who have their own personal vehicles can register to be driver. Once registration is complete and their profiles have been verified, drivers can create trips from one city or town to another. Drivers have control over the pricing of available seats in their vehicle. As such, drivers can make extra money during a trip they were already planning to make,” he said.