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Low uptake delays use of matatu cards in Nairobi

Commuters in Nairobi will continue paying fare in cash even as the deadline for the use of fare cards lapsed on Monday.

A spot check by Nairobi News in various Nairobi routes on Monday revealed that passengers without the cards were still allowed to pay in cash.

A stage manager at C-BET Sacco, Solomon Njoroge, said although passengers were responding well to the new cashless payment system, it was unrealistic to expect a seamless transition.

“It is not easy to implement the new system at once. We are still taking passengers using cash, but soon it will get to a point where we will stop taking passengers without cards,” Mr Njoroge said at the saccos’s terminus on Ronald Ngala Street.


This comes against a backdrop of intensified efforts by matatu saccos plying Jogoo Road to implement the switch-over to the cashless system.

Nine saccos subscribing to the 1963 cashless payment cards had announced stringent measures including having enforcement officers boarding matatus and checking passengers for compliance to the new system.

“From Wednesday, each 1963 matatu will have stickers inside giving Sacco hotline numbers for passengers to use in the event a conductor will not accept their cards and demands cash,” read a statement sent to newsrooms.

Enforcement agents aboard matatus met resistance from bus conductors and touts, said Melvin Meloist, a supervisor on Umoja route.

The claim was refuted by Mr Lovy Machoka, a driver of an Umoinner Sacco-registered matatu.

“These cards are good for they make matatu owners trust us more since they can track the monies we collect in a day,” said Mr Machoka.



However, it would be difficult to drop a passenger for lacking the electronic card, he added.

He felt that passengers were ignorant of the importance of the cards, sentiments confirmed by Ms Agnes Mutua, a passenger queuing to board a Complaint Sacco matatu.

Ms Mutua read doom on the plastic cards, connecting the transition to the digital payment system to Biblical advent of the apocalypse.

But Mr Elvis Musungu and Mr Fredrick Ogada who had registered 17 passengers at the Metro Trans Sacco matatu stage said that passengers were responding well to the new system.