Matatu owners gear up for cashless system, tell State to keep off

The Matatu Owners Association (MOA) has revealed plans to reintroduce the cashless commuter payment system later in the year.

However, the association said this time round, no State agency will be allowed to take part. Instead of the numerous banks and telecom scrambling for a share of the Sh50 billion industry, only one bank has been picked for the exercise; Diamond Trust Bank (DTB).

If any other bank wants to get involved, then it has to go by the terms of DTB so as to make the new Pamoja cards, which will be issued, interoperable.

Speaking to The Standard, MOA Chairman Simon Kimutai said they do not want the State 'breathing on our backs' in the new venture.

"We have been carrying out tests on several routes and meetings with DTB and things are going on well. This venture will be 100 per cent private sector owned and controlled," he said.

On its first introduction, banks and telecom firms clashed over control of Sh2.1 billion on supplying the cards. Kimutai said at the time that some banks issued compliance certificates to matatus yet they did not have the required payment gadgets, just to win them over as customers.

He blamed former Transport Secretary Michael Kamau for the failure of the system, citing the ministry's short timeline of one year and lack of experts.

"The least it can take to implement is four years and the CS decided to implement it alone without stakeholders. We just had to sit and watch it crumble because we knew it would fail," he said.

Apart from Pamoja Card, which aims to seal the 30 per cent loss incur due to poor accounts, MOA said it will be replacing matatus with a Bus Transit System in partnership with Nairobi County.