EDITORIAL: Resolve hitches in City Hall payment platform


City Hall, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Nairobi City County is losing millions of shillings every day after it suddenly introduced its internal electronic-payment system that has failed to work as envisaged. The rushed rollout of the new platform operated by the county government appears to have undoubtedly played a role.

There were all sorts of problems with the deal between City Hall and WebTribe, which operates JamboPay, but the county’s abrupt withdrawal from the platform speaks of a recklessness. Introducing a new system on Sunday and expecting it to work smoothly on Monday was a bad idea. It is a well-established principle to conduct test-runs and provide adequate transition time backed with user awareness before moving to a new platform.

The result is that the county is missing out more than Sh33 million revenue collection daily.

This is particularly unfortunate as this money could have been used to improve infrastructure, schools and housing that Nairobi residents so much need.

The county relies on the system to collect revenues from parking, business permits, land rates, rent and adverts among other services.

As such, it was expected that e-Jijipay’s replacement would be better and efficient. Clearly, the county government did not test the system sufficiently to validate its technical functionalities before deploying it.

The county had the option of reaching an agreement with JamboPay to provide a backup as they run a pilot. But the oversight of City Hall officials has brought about the biggest revenue loss yet.

Mike Sonko’s government should not take pride in introducing a deficient payment system. City officials in charge of the rollout need to move with speed to resolve this unfolding disaster.

Even as they work to fix the problem, they should be held accountable. Decisions passed by the county should be an added investment to the welfare of city dwellers. Missing revenue collection is not.

Fairly or not, Nairobi had reasons to seek an alternative e-payment system after four years of a rocky relationship with the JamboPay owner. However, to believe that replacing an existing system would solve all issues that the county is facing in revenue collection is a serious misjudgment.