By NICHOLAS WAITATHU
All public service vehicles (PSV) will be required to implement and operate a cashless payment system for all fares by July 2014.
Matatu owners will be required to install gadgets in their PSV vehicles to facilitate electronic payment and passengers will pay fares using smartcards.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau on Tuesday said the new concept is informed by advanced technology in the country.
“We are in the service industry and based on the dynamics in the market in terms of technology advancement, the matatu players will be required to implement an electronic payment structure and ensure they also issue passengers with tickets,” he said. Already some PSV companies, for example, KBS Management, Double M, Citi Hoppa, long distance bus companies and Sacco’s are implementing the system.
However, passengers are yet to embrace the new initiative and prefer paying cash to conductors.
Kamau stated that the new approach will assist in easing cases of conductors disappearing with money belonging to owners or passengers.
He made the remarks during a Stakeholders Consultation Forum held at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) to discuss the National Transport and Safety Authority (Operation of Public Service Vehicles) Regulations, 2013.
Matatu players welcomed the new regulations saying it demonstrates the government’s will to reform the public transport sector.
Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai commended the government, saying consultations in the industry will enhance a conducive working relationship.
The National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) established early this year will administer the regulations. President Uhuru Kenyatta last month appointed Lee Kinyanjui, a former assistant minister in the Kibaki administration, as the new chairman of the outfit.
“The regulations are not new as such but we are building on the Michuki Rules introduced in 2004. We are determined to change the face the PSV industry by ensuring that all the players abide to the new regulations and maintain order when they are undertaking the business, ”Kamau added.
Some key highlights of the regulations are that a vehicle shall not be licensed as a public service vehicle unless the owner or operator of the vehicles is a corporate body whose principle objective is the operation of public vehicles and which meets minimum conditions prescribed by the authority. “To run a PSV business, the corporate must be the registered owner of a minimum of 30 serviceable vehicles licensed as public service vehicles or in the respect to which an application for a license has been or is to be lodged with the authority,” Kamau added.
He said that owners of long distance vehicles must have more than one driver if they are to be allowed to operate.
“A long distance passenger service shall state at which time the service may be offered,” he added.
Kamau noted that the entities operating long-distance, overnight services shall employ drivers certified by the authority to drive on the particular route at night time.
Kamau further stated that as part of the effort to enhance safety, Government has introduced a Sh10million award scheme to reward matatu Saccos for excellent performance.