Thursday, February 29, 2024

Public transport swiping card to be launched next month

Botswana Public Transport Card, OleKard Chief Executive Officer, Pule Mmolotsi, says the company, despite stakeholder skepticism, will on June 25 launch the long awaited pre-paid smart card designed to save public transport passengers the inconvenience of carrying cash while in transit.

Mmolotsi was adamant the launch of the pilot phase of the OleKard, a first in Botswana’s public transport history, would go ahead as scheduled, despite bus operators’ lamentations concerning cash security.

Referring to thorny issues raised to a follow-up stakeholders forum to be held shortly, Mmolotsi said the launch of their technological brainchild would be preceded by a pilot phase involving short, medium and long route buses as the only way to showcase its precision, user convenience and market versatility.

According to the forward-looking Mmolotsi, “The OleKard is a ‘no name’ pin-driven public transport card, users swipe onto a reader installed online onto a bus when either boarding or alighting.

Public transport passengers, who will be given the card free of charge as part of the promotion, can load value from authorized vendors in the OleKard Services Outlets. On boarding, passengers swipe the OleKard on to the machine and the conductor gives them a receipt as proof of payment.

They repeat the procedure at the end of their journey as a security and verification for electronic audit hooked onto a dedicated Global Satellite Position Monitoring System (GPSM). When the bus reaches the final destination, the technology can provide bus operators the full amount of the payload by calling the OleKard Head Office.

“The amount due is channeled through to an account opened with the First National Bank Botswana (FNB) accessed through the OleKard Clearing House. Although there could be delays with other commercial banks, FNBB account holders enjoy the privilege of instantaneous transactions.”

Mmolotsi said that advantages of this brainchild include enabling passengers jumping onto any bus of their choice as long as it has been installed with the machine, and avoiding passenger risks associated with carrying cash such as thefts, robberies or hold ups while in transit. Businesses dealing with hard cash on a daily basis are often targeted by criminals, be it a bus or shop. Cash receipt or ticket- issuing books have a cost attached to it that bus operators might avoid when the service becomes universal.

Moreover, the development of the economy attracts illegal immigrants who may want to try a hand at hijacking as a survival modus operandi. Further, conductor fraud (mukunyata), a cash windfall for unscrupulous incumbent, would vanish into the twilight as a result of the cash-free OleKard.

“As business persons, bus operators enjoy the added advantage of verifying a phone call away payload for non-cash transactions, passenger boardings, accurate details concerning mileage traveled and time taken by each bus at the end of the trip. This would minimize the laborious tasks of verifications during manual audits,” he said.

The prices for swiping machines range from P15 000 to P20 000. However, there was the option of an 8 percent deduction on the day’s takings as installments for operators who preferred the pay-as-you-use option as opposed to cash upfront, he said.

Mahube Express Operator, Kgamanyane Ramatsui, expressed skepticism about the bank account crediting mechanism.

“What are the guarantees that we will receive all monies due at the end of each day? There is the risk that an employee of OleKard could skip the country with undisclosed amounts when they realized windfalls.”

AMT Carriers General Manager Operations as well Botswana Bus Transport Operators Association Chairman, Reuben Tlhaselo, said he wanted to know how the 8 percent deduction had been arrived at, given the cost price. He, however, called for an urgent meeting with all bus operators to discuss unresolved issues and chart the way forward.

AT & T Monnakogtla Transport Senior Operations Supervisor queries how card holders would get replacements in cases of loss of theft of cards.

In his response, Mmolotsi said the bus operators’ queries were a result of poor response to meetings where stakeholder interests were discussed. He gave the assurance that there was still an opportunity to make up for lost time.

Mmolotsi is an identity credential specialist with more than 12 years of experience in the Biometrics Technology field, which includes research, technology acquisition, special training and exchange programmes. His latest innovation is a solution to the financial institutions and commercial banks addressing identity theft issues centred on Identity Transaction Management and Data Security Solution from OleKard, rated the world’s most financially secure.


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