Car owners using Nairobi County’s digital parking payment service JamboPay say that what was meant to automate the city's revenue collection by offering a cashless alternative is now fraught with systemic challenges that have led to their vehicles being clamped by parking officials.
Many residents that spoke to the Business Daily say the e-payments platform is often slow to process transactions, thus forcing many drivers to pay manually - often after being informed that their vehicles have already been clamped by the County parking services department.
According to Nairobi's parking services regulations, all motorists on arrival and parking at all designated parking lots in the devolved unit are required to pay Sh300 either manually or digitally through the JamboPay platform.
A spot check within the Central Business District (CBD) on Tuesday revealed numerous complaints from frustrated motorists confounded with the platform's technical issues.
High traffic to system
Josephine Wangechi, a vehicle owner who usually parks along Kimathi Street, reckons that the payments system is sometimes very sluggish due to many motorists seeking to use the service at the same time, usually in the morning.
“JamboPay is very slow and prone to delays hence forcing most of us sometimes to pay manually to avoid the car being clamped. It is frustrating because we have nowhere to take our complaints given that this is an automated system,” said Ms Wangechi.
Another motorist, Paul Njoroge, pointed out that for those opting to use the platform, it can take several hours before one gets a response thereby inconveniencing those in a hurry.
“You can imagine I occasionally find myself paying twice as a result of the slow responsiveness of the system so as to avoid my car being towed by parking officers,” said Mr Njoroge.
In another incident highlighting challenges plaguing the e-payments system, this writer found a female motorist reduced to tears after encountering a parking attendant clamping her car even though she says she had paid through the system.
The woman, who did not want her identity revealed, said that when she raised the issue with the parking officer and subsequently, a query was done, the system failed to reflect the payment she had made.
“My car was clamped yet I had paid for it. It is not fair at all and the County Government needs to do something,” said the agitated lady.
Outside Finance House, a taxi driver also complained of JamboPay's poor services saying that it was a costly inconvenience as many motorists find themselves paying twice or having their vehicles clamped by parking attendants despite making payments, noting that he felt the manual system worked better.
“Most motorists are always forced to pay manually since sometimes the system is just dead or too slow and fearing penalties as a result of defaulting in parking. Things were a bit better during manual payments where you could pay with cash and be assured unlike this digital one,” said the cab driver.
During a recent address to journalists, Governor Mike Sonko said that his administration was looking for another e-payment system to complement JamboPay in an effort to make sure that all revenue streams to the County were digitised.
“JamboPay is doing well, but we can do better. We are considering another firm to help in revenue collection,” said the City Hall boss.