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Kenya's Public Service Vehicles cashless system fails to kick off

By Kamau Muthoni and Sophiah Muthoni | December 2nd 2014
A tout loads luggage on top of a matatu in Eldoret. Commuters did not use the cashless system Monday. [Photo: Kevin Tunoi/ Standard]

Most public service vehicles on various routes in Nairobi did not implement the new cashless fare system Monday.

Matatu operators and passengers interviewed at various bus stations within the city said the roll-out should have been done gradually to enable all commuters to acquire the cards.

Some lauded the efforts by the Transport ministry while others said the system will not be effective in the rural areas, especially for the old people.

Sarah Wanaga, a Nairobi student, said she had already acquired the card but did not use it Monday.

"I got the card to avoid the last-minute rush but I have boarded a matatu and everything seems to be normal on the road," Ms Wanaga said.

The payment system was initially meant to kick off in July this year but was extended to Monday.

However, commuters and matatu operators were not ready to implement the system Monday while some passengers like Ms Wanaga had the card but could not use them.

According to a Kenya Bus manager, the people should have been educated on the benefits of the cashless system and how to use it before being rolled out.

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The manager, who declined to be identified, said passengers were not versed with what they are required to do with the cards.

Most commuters who rely on the public transport system were not aware that they should have had the cards by Monday.

Hassan Farah, a Nairobi resident living in Pangani, lauded the efforts to have the cashless system in place, though he had not prepared for one.

Matatu operators were reluctant to adopt the system for fear of losing jobs.

Meanwhile, Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau Monday said no PSV will be cleared by the inspection unit without a cashless system in place.

The CS said the directive issued to the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit became effective Monday.

He spoke when he launched the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) electronic commuter card, also dubbed Pepea Card.

"I know we shall experience some teething problems in the initial stages of implementation but I believe that with time things will fall into place," Kamau said.

The KCB Pepea Card will allow its users to not only pay for transit but also use it at all point-of-sale terminals including retail stores and fuel stations.

KCB Group Chief Executive Officer Joshua Oigara said the bank had already been given the go-ahead to offer the service by the Central Bank of Kenya, which was required to scrutinise all the cashless payment vendors to help protect commuters from fraud.

"We are hoping to launch a million cards between now and early next year. The card is absolutely free and one can load it from their mobile phone through KCB mobile banking, KCB Mtaani agents and Mpesa," Oigara said.

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