Matatu owners say the availability of liquid cash has turned the sector into a cash cow for traffic police officers who thrive in extorting the drivers and conductors.
Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai has called for the return of cashless fare system to rein on wanton corruption in the public transport sector.
Mr Kimutai said that the availability of liquid cash has turned the sector into a cash cow for traffic police officers who thrive in extorting the drivers and conductors by ‘fixing them’ just to get some bribe.
“Money offences have now been turned into cash cows as the available liquid money is the source of corruption in the transport sector,” said Mr Kimutai said on Wednesday during a public transport sectoral consultative forum in Nairobi.
He also called for the matatu saccos to be empowered by National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to be able to revoke licences of their members who do not follow laid down rules.
“It is the Saccos that suffer during accidents and if they are empowered then they can rein on errant members,” he said.
In 2014, the government through the Ministry of Transport, as per the Operation of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) Regulations 2013, gave July 2015, which was pushed to December same year, as the deadline for all matatus to comply with the cashless system.
The system was to streamline the PSV industry as well as enable the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to collect taxes from the industry.
A number of firms rolled out the system which included Safaricom’s Lipa na M-Pesa, Fibre Space Limited’s MY 1963, Google in partnership with Equity Bank’s Beba Pay and a Hong Kong firm’s TaptoPay.
The move was hailed as one that was to help stop corruption in the sector by enabling investors to control their cash flow and ensure a fair pricing system to stop price hiking during peak hours.
The system was to generate a receipt that was to show a passenger’s balance at the same time the registration number of the vehicle one had used and the name of the conductor.
Registration of the card was free and one only required a national identification card, a valid phone number and date of birth information to create individual accounts.
Users could also load money to the card through M-Pesa or other means, depending on the card system in use.