The Matatu Owners Association (MOA) has called for the return of the cashless payments system to rein in corruption.
Chairman Simon Kimutai complained on Wednesday that the availability of liquid cash has turned the sector into a cash cow for traffic police officers who extort matatu crew.
“Money offences have now been turned into cash cows. The available money is the source of corruption in the transport sector,” he said in his presentation to the Public Transport Sectoral Consultative Forum at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
The chair also asked the National Transport and Safety Authority to empower matatu saccos to revoke the licences of members who disregard regulations.
“It is the saccos that suffer during accidents. If they are empowered, they will rein in [malpractices and punish] errant members,” he said.
In 2014, the Transport ministry issued a deadline for all matatus to adopt the cashless system, as per Operation of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) Regulations, 2013.
The deadline had been set as July 2015 but was pushed to December that year.
The system was aimed at streamlining the public service vehicles industry and enabling the Kenya Revenue Authority to collect taxes.
A number of firms got on board – Safaricom’ (Lipa na M-Pesa), Fibre Space Limited (MY 1963), Google in partnership with Equity Bank (Beba Pay) and a Hong Kong firm (TaptoPay).
The move was praised for enabling investors to control their cash flow and ensuring a fair pricing system to stop price hiking during peak hours.
Receipts were to be generated to show passengers’ balances, vehicle registration numbers and the names of conductors.
Card registration was free, the only requirements for account creation being the national identity card, a valid phone number and the date of birth.
Users could also load money on the card through M-Pesa or other avenues, depending on their preferred card systems.
“There is no boycott by matatus. The situation has been caused by lack of gadgets, making compliance difficult to achieve. There are also sub-standard seat belts all around as the Kenya Bureau of Standards is not carrying out proper inspection.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his Interior Counterpart Fred Matiang’i said the rules, introduced by the no-nonsense powerful Cabinet minister John Michuki in 2003, will be enforced with more ruthlessness and discipline.
Road accidents have been on the rise this year and have killed 8,000 people in the last three years. Just last month, 58 people were killed in a horrific accident involving a bus in western Kenya.