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Why Nairobi motorists got raw deal in new parking payment plan

Nairobi motorists seem to have gotten the short end of the stick with the introduction of a new revenue collection system by City Hall to replace eJijiPay.

Motorists have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for parking with each having to shell out an extra Sh23 daily in transaction cost rather than the Sh200 parking fee they used to pay under EjijiPay.

This is after City Hall introduced a new e-payment system in June as part of the Internal Revenue Management System (IRMS) that requires drivers to make payments using USSD code *235#.

The new system was set up after Web Tribe Limited’s, the parent company of JamboPay – a firm which used to run the eJijiPay online payment platform on behalf of City Hall, contract came to an end with the county government on June 7 after more than five years.

Unlike in the previous system run by JamboPay where a motorist had the option to open a wallet and deposit as much money at between Sh8 and Sh23, the money is currently pulled directly from the motorist’s M-Pesa account, and motorists now have to pay a Sh23 fee for every transaction.

“On paper, daily parking fee charge is Sh200 but the reality is that we have to pay at least Sh23 extra every day meaning that in essence the fee is more than the purported Sh200,” said Peter Musyoki.

M-PESA

That’s not all. Over and above the Sh23 that is being charged by Safaricom through M-Pesa, there is also a Sh2 fee that is deducted from one’s airtime as you navigate through the new short code to pay for the service.

“If you do not have airtime you can’t pay for parking. Previously, once you loaded money in the wallet subsequent payments were free,” added Mr Mr Musyoki.

As if that is not enough, the motorists have to contend with system glitches where after a transaction, a user does not get a confirmation message.

This has resulted in a number of motorists getting their cars clamped by parking attendants as a result inconveniencing most as the unlucky have to part with the hefty Sh2, 000 unclamping fee.

The system malfunctions started immediately when the new system was launched with motorists reporting outages, long delays and frustrations in facilitation of payments for five consecutive days.

But this has only partially improved with motorists still complaining of the long delays with some waiting for hours for confirmation of payment.

When reached for comment over whether there are plans to address the extra cost being incurred by motorists, City Hall was not forthcoming with information with the two departments directly involved in the process, Finance and ICT, passing the buck to the other.

ECONOMIC PLANNING

“I will refer you to the ICT executive as the matter is under them and I would not really have much about it,” said Finance and Economic Planning executive Charles Kerich.

But when City Hall ICT and E-Government executive Newton Munene was sought for a comment, he also referred the issue back to his Finance counterpart.

“Normally, such talks would be held by finance department because they are the ones who are tasked with revenue management collection and its implementation. So the right person you would get in touch with is the Finance executive.”

The pain is also with seasonal parking ticket holders who have also complained of a tedious process and long queues that has been heralded by the new system.

One such resident is James Maina, who has been paying for season tickets for a fleet of cars he manages.

He said that following the introduction of the new system, payments for seasonal parking is now done through a single branch of National Bank along Kenyatta Avenue which has long queues.

Mr Maina also pointed out that the process is more involving than before as one has to get a receipt or an invoice from the county government parking department in order to cash in a cheque one wants to use to pay for the seasonal parking.

“Then you go back with the same to the bank where there is long queues for 30 minutes and the line is not moving. Before you would go to any Cooperative Bank branch, give them the cheque and then they will tell you it will be ready after two working days. You would then take the slip to the county with the list of your vehicles to pay for and that would be it,” said a frustrated Maina.