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Suspend cashless plan, say matatus

Matatu operators want Monday’s deadline for starting the cashless fare system suspended indefinitely, arguing that the industry is not prepared to implement the directive.

Mr Dickson Mbugua, the Matatu Welfare Association chairman said no progress had been made regarding consultations within the industry, and both the crew and passengers of public service vehicles were unprepared for the card system.

“The chances of this system succeeding are very low, since not everyone is on board. Most saccos have not equipped their vehicles with the machines and a majority of passengers are yet to buy the cards,” said Mr Mbugua.

RESTRICTIVE RULES

The MWA chairman also took issue with what he termed the government’s interference with the PSV industry, saying that it was unfair to single out only one aspect of the economy and subject it to restrictive rules.

“We feel that the government has no right to dictate to the PSV sector how to collect their revenues. It is only fair that if cards have to be used in matatus, then this directive should be extended to all businesses and all official transactions in the country,” he said.

The Matatu Drivers and Conductors Association (MDCA) also challenged the practicality of the cashless system and asked the government to postpone the deadline until the welfare of its members is looked into.

“Drivers and conductors first have to be formally and permanently employed before the directive can take off because there is nothing to stop an uncouth matatu owner from refusing to pay his crew since there is no evidence that a specific driver and conductor were operating the vehicle that day,” said Mr Samson Wainaina, the MDCA chairman.

MATATUS PREPARED

However, the Matatu Owners Association continued to express its support for the prepaid card system, saying it is necessary to bring order to the chaotic industry.

Mr Albert Karagacha, the national coordinator of the owners lobby, disputed Mr Mbugua’s assertions, saying that most matatu saccos were prepared for the overhaul in fare collecting systems.

“We have people on the ground who tell us that so far, around one million commuters in Nairobi have been issued with the prepaid cards,” said Mr Karagacha.

“In addition, around 100 matatu saccos have pledged to implement the cashless system from today. Some of these saccos are MetroTrans, Compliance and 105KLM,” he said.