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Confusion as agency enforces cashless fare

Hundreds city passengers commuting from Kencom, GPO and Ambassador bus stops were temporarily stranded when the National Transport and Safety Authority and police moved to enforce the use of cashless bus fare system.

A standoff ensued on Tuesday between matatu industry players, the service providers and the police after an alleged system failure hampered payment across the gadgets of different service providers.

City Shuttle Chief Executive Officer Martin Karuga said the hitch was caused by the failure of machines to read all the cards.

He also faulted service providers for not carrying out adequate consumer awareness campaigns as a majority of the commuters were caught unawares.

“We are ready to use the cashless fare system but the interoperability failure of the cards and gadgets is causing inconvenience and losses.

CONSUMER AWARENESS

“We have agreed with the regulators that this be addressed first, adequate consumer awareness campaign be done and the directive to be applied uniformly instead of being pushed into a system with all these hitches,’’ Mr Karuga said.

After testing the six cards, Mr Karuga said that only Co-operative Bank’s M-Nauli machine would accept other cards while most of the transactions across service providers failed.

Opinion is varied as to why the system failed to take off. Some blamed the transport agency for haphazardly implementing the system in the three bus stops when the service providers were not adequately prepared.

Commuters were caught off-guard as they were required to part with Sh300 for an Equity prepaid card, Sh100 for Cooperative Bank’s M-Nauli, at least Sh60 for KCB’s Pepea Card and Sh10 on M-Pesa account to activate Safaricom’s My 1963.

The transport agency had envisaged that cards and gadgets being used in the cashless fare system could be accessed across board.

However, it emerged that some providers discriminated against cards and networks had hitches.