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PSV operators back cashless fare platform

Simon Kimutai
Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Players in the matatu sector have backed State’s efforts to set up an e-ticketing platform, clearing the way for mandatory cashless payment of fares after a false start of six years ago.

Public transport vehicle (PSV) operators said the new platform would boost security of passengers and stem revenue leakages blamed for losses averaging 30 percent of daily cash collection.

“An e-ticketing system with a payment gateway would see investors earning more money while ensuring fares are regulated,” said Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai.

“I tried to introduce a cashless service in 2014 but it flopped since cartels managing bus routes and stages opposed it.”

At the moment, said Mr Kimutai, drivers and conductors commit deliberate traffic offences because of easy access to collected cash with which they pay their way out of trouble.

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On Tuesday, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) advertised for bids inviting tech companies to install mobile software and web applications for the nearly 200,000 PSVs.

Once the system is in place, all passengers would be required to pay their fares via mobile money platforms, giving the government access to their identities and personal contact information that is needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted lives worldwide.

In sharp contrast to job loss fears expressed during the system's trial in 2014, Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua supported the e-ticketing system, adding the NTSA should involve operators in planning the platform to boost uptake once it is introduced in the market.

The platform enables the government to access travel manifest that makes it easy to trace passengers who used the affected matatu in case a Covid-19 case is reported.

Mr Kimutai said a money collection portal would help formalise matatu operations with drivers being paid monthly salaries instead of daily stipends that make it impossible for them to plan their lives and continue living on a hand-to-mouth life.

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