Formerly Matatuonline, Kenya’s ‘Panga Safari’ aims to make public transport easy by availing information to people in a move to enlighten as well as equipping them with tools to pre-plan their journeys.
Developed by David Kanyari in 2010 as an MSC thesis, Panga Safari-Swahili for plan for your journey, the site aims to help travelers who get lost due to lack of prior information on how to get from point A to B.
“The Panga Safari story was inspired by a commuter in a matatu who wanted to know what bus she could transfer to to her destination. She wondered if every time she travels she would have to ask a passerby for this information. Well, that gave birth to PangaSafari.” Kanyiri says. ” I have been lost so many times just like many of us. Ithought hHow about solving this by technology?”
Now with about 1000 users monthly, Panga Safari plans to extend the initiative to the counties and other town centers around the country to help users reach their destinations. The site is setting up all major bus stops, matatus plying that route and a list of bus stops or stations from the departure point to the destination given and the route is plotted in real time to all major estates and suburbs with a visualized map.
“Our mission is to provide relevant and up to date information on mobility, directions, fares etc thus empowering you with information. This information includes bus information, distances, route description, estimated time taken and minimum fares where applicable,” Kanyari says.
The prospective PhD Computer Science student says a user queries for a matatu by keying in both origin and destination. The response is information about the matatu number to take, the distance to be covered and a map or a schematic diagram (and a narration) of the transit is also included. Origins and destinations could be bus stops, place names, building name, facilities, institutions among others.
The site has now covered Nairobi CBD to Kiserian, Ngong, Kiambu, Dagoretti, Limuru, Gatundu, Nazareth, Banana, Ruai, Utawala, Thika, Kiganjo, Gatundu, Mwihoko, Gikambura,Gachie, Wangige, Kitengela and several other suburbs.
The public can also register to add data to PangaSafari such as buildings, bus stops or matatu numbers. Kanyiri says he is in the process of integrating fares into the system so users don’t have to ask how much their journey takes.
PangaSafari says it will make money from adverts, minimal charge SMS /USSD platform per inquiry or in-app ads on its yet to be launched Android app.
Unlike similar apps in Nairobi providing information on traffic jams and accidents, Pangasafari aims to focus on the new road user in town and long distance travelers who need to know where the bus terminus is, which matatu route they are supposed to take and how long the journey will be at a certain average speed. Kanyiri and his other professional colleagues have founded Techscope Africa – a GIS &IT solutions company that deals with consultancies in map servers, resource mapping, IT solutions development ,web & mobile Applications development and training in GIS.