EDITORIAL: Cashless matatu payments won’t be easy to implement


In the latest attempt at implementing cashless payment of fares in public service vehicles (PSVs), the government has published new regulations that imposes fines and jail terms for operators who fail to give passengers alternatives to the usage of coins and notes.

Those who continue to operate without offering contact-free fare payment alternatives such as mobile money and cards that can be waved over point of sale machines now face a Sh20,000 fine or six months in jail or both.

The new regulations are meant to curb the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus by limiting interactions among passengers and PSV crew members.

This is a welcome move that could yield more benefits beyond fighting the pandemic, including bringing the public transport sector into the tax bracket.

But publishing laws and ensuring they are adhered to are two different things, especially when it comes to this industry that has built a reputation for resisting and breaking regulations with abandon.

This is due to a confluence of factors such as corruption in law enforcement agencies and political interference.

An earlier cashless fare payment platform fronted by the government in 2014 failed to take off after PSV operators lobbied against it, saying it was merely a ploy to tax them more.

While the latest push for digital fare payment platforms has the backing of the law, its enforcement will be the biggest challenge.

It will require the police and transport authorities to prosecute those who fail to install the cashless platforms. It will not be a surprise if there is little compliance with this requirement if the authorities treat this as yet another opportunity to collect bribes from PSV crews and their employers.

Other recent PSV rules also aimed at combating the pandemic such as the reduction of bus and van seating capacities are already being flouted.

Successful implementation of cashless fare payment will have more longer-term benefits, including expanding the tax bracket and extending durability of bank notes, which are often crumpled by PSV crews.

SOURCE: businessdailyafrica.com

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