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Cashless system fails to kickoff, again

Commuters in Nairobi on Monday morning used cash to pay for bus fares after the much-anticipated cashless system failed to kick off for the second time.

A spot check across different bus termini by Nairobi News established that passengers were using cash to pay while some of the bus operators did not have the required transaction gadgets.

For Star Bus Ltd that plies the Nairobi-Kikuyu route, none of the bus operators had the gadget and commuters did not offer to pay the fare using cards either.


According to a passenger on a 105 Shuttle Services bus, the different cards in the market are confusing users while some matatus lack the gadget.

“I have a card that I rarely use because in most cases the conductors say they do not have the gadget to complete my transaction and so I’m forced to pay in cash,” said Abdi Sora.

Players in the matatu industry are, however, blaming the government for failing to ensure matatus operators are ready for the  cashless system and awareness among commuters.

“We are as prepared as the service providers are and as it stands right now, the providers are not ready for takeoff and so we are waiting for them to get ready,” said Mary Mwangi the proprietor of Double M Services.

Mrs Mwangi added that investors need to be included in the discussions for the transition and be informed of what percentage they will keep.

“People think the industry has a lot of money and so everyone is trying to come in and get a piece of the cake, the government needs to protect the industry as it is the largest employer,” she added.


The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) had maintained that the rollout date would not be postponed again.

“On Monday, all public transport vehicles will be expected to have gone cashless,” NTSA Director General Francis Meja told Nairobi News on Friday.

For matatu crews, especially the conductors who charge passengers, the cashless system will be inconveniencing as different destinations are charged differently hence the need to keep adjusting the amount charged for different customers.

“At the moment there are different gadgets that are made for the different cards; customers have some cards that are not in sync with the gadgets we have,” said Kamau, a conductor in one of the city buses.

However, according to a 1963 card brand ambassador, Tina who was introducing the product to customers on Monday morning at Kencom stage, the company’s gadget can take any card and is currently in use among five different saccos.