A different taxi

Established in February 2014 as a sister company of Adika Tour & Travel Plc, with initial capital of 7.5 million birr, Adika Taxi Services Plc, launched its meter taxi service in Addis Ababa. Adika paid nine million birr for the purchase of 25 taxis that Zemen Bank foreclosed from Sheger City Metre Taxi Transport S.C. Adika is now giving service engaging in dial a cab taxi service (8210) based on its 15 years of experience and exposure in the car rental business. The vehicles, which are FAW brands cars with a capacity of four passengers will operate according to requests for their services via the company’s call center. Bizuayehu Tadesse, general manager of the company talked to Capital about his company’s plan to expand their business. Excerpts:
Capital: What is unique about this business?
Bizuayehu Tadesse:
The meter taxi service charges customers according to the distance they travel and how long the taxi waits. Adika taxies will be unique in that they will have a global positioning system (GPS). So our office will be able to monitor the activity of the taxies and drivers.
Capital: When did you start? And what motivates you?
Bizuayehu:
As you know Adika Tour and Travel Plc has been renting cars for the last 15 years.  We rent cars for weddings and 4 wheel drive cars for touring. We were motivated to start the meter taxi service because customers kept asking us to pick them up from their home to work. Furthermore, Addis is the diplomatic hub of Africa and many foreigners and diplomats are used to having this type of service in their own country instead of being forced to negotiate with drivers who often charge them much higher prices. Finally because of the city’s development, it is becoming more and more of a challenge to get to places easily since things are so spread out. 
Capital: What have you been using as an example?
Bizuayehu:
We have looked at businesses in Dubai, Nairobi and Cape Town.
Capital: Where are the taxies now and how many are there?
Bizuayehu:
Currently our business is still small. There are 25 taxies stationed around Piassa, Bole, Mexico and Kazanches.
Capital: What is the fee per kilometer ?
Bizuayehu:
We charge 24 birr per kilometer and additionally we charge 2 birr per minute for waiting if the passenger makes the taxi wait while they go to the shop or a meeting or any other activity.
Capital: How do you control the rate on the meter and how do you prevent it from being tampered with?
Bizuayehu:
The meter in the car has its own memory card and is able to read how many kilometres the taxi has travelled. In the near future the GPS system will allow us to control the activities of the taxies from our office. For the time being we rely on the memory card of the meter.
Capital: Any plans to expand outside Addis?
Bizuayehu:
Right now we have a small number of cars but we are working on partnering with the yellow airport taxies in the future. We don’t have plans to go outside of Addis for now, we feel there is enough business here.
Capital:  How do the yellow airport taxies work with you?
Bizuayehu:
It is very simple. As long as they have a standard car we can install the meter and GPS. If cars do not meet our standard we cover half the money for them to buy a metered taxi and teach them to respect customers and drive ethically because we believe customers must be respected.
Capital: What share do those drivers earn?
Bizuayehu:
We ask them to pay service and commission charges because we facilitate the management and we deliver customers to them daily. I think this system will mutually benefit both Adika and the joint taxies.
Capital: Metered taxies were first initiated by Sheger Taxi here in Addis, but the company reportedly went bankrupt, do you think you will be successful?
Bizuayehu:
I am one hundred percent sure we will be successful and we are jumping into the business boldly because we have major customers in corporate businesses, United Nations agencies, the African Union, and many international and local NGOs have been working with us in the past. They are buying membership cards and we are confident we will be serving them for a long time.
Capital:   How do you plan to increase your market share?
Bizuayehu:
We have prepared a membership card and everybody can apply and have it, and when they do, they will receive a discount of up to 5 percent per kilometre. There are other benefit packages like bronze, silver, gold cards that people earn depending on the distance they travel. The minimum requirement is 1,000 kilometers and when they have this card they can get discounts at supermarkets.
Capital:  What challenges do you think you will face?
Bizuayehu:
These types of taxies are a new idea in Ethiopia so we have to promote them. In addition yellow taxies look at us, as a competitor; However, we are not trying to put people out of business, instead we are trying to modernize the system and we hope that many taxi operators will work with us.
Moreover, in the day time we plan to have women taxi drivers because we want to encourage women to get involved in the business. We also plan to work out some sort of cooperation with Ethiopian Airlines.