For a second time, the government is seeking to discontinue the use of cash payment in Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), Kahawa Tungu has learnt.
But this time, the government wants to invest in a digital fare collection system that will also have the technical capability to contact trace passengers hence help in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Contact tracing breaks the chains of transmission of infectious diseases and is widely being used to contain community spread of Covid-19.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), which is charged with the role of regulating the road transport sector, has called for bids from tech companies to install the software in about 200,000 matatus in the country.
Once the technology is available across the country, the government will issue a director requiring all passengers to pay their bus fares via mobile money.
Business Daily reports that this will give the government access to personal contact information that could be used to trace passengers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, it’s nearly impossible to conduct contact tracing in a scenario where a passenger tests positive and they can’t identify the person(s) they boarded matatu with.
In the tender notice, NTSA Director-General George Njao said the e-payment will be mandatory.
“The cashless system will also provide a platform for development of an effective contact tracing application to support the government effort in addressing the coronavirus pandemic, ” the notice reads.
The authority has set June 16 as the deadline for submission of bids.
This clearly indicates that the government is determined to roll out the system within the shortest time possible.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had in March urged Kenyans to embrace cashless payments in matatus as part of the efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
But many operators and passengers still prefer “physical” money hence higher risk of infection.
This is, however, not the first time the government is attempting to phase out cash payments in PSVs.
President Kenyatta in November 2014 launched a cashless payment system in PSVs that required passengers to get pre-paid cards or use mobile money for payment of fares but it flopped after facing opposition from operators.
The operators felt that it was a ploy to monitor their daily earnings for taxation measures.