During this COVID-19 pandemic, the public has been encouraged to transact using cashless means to prevent the spread of the virus, but the matatu industry is still grappling with the issue. As it is the norm, those who board a matatu will pay their fare using cash, and the advent of COVID-19 is challenging the status quo. The government is looking to introduce a digital fare collecting scheme that will go long term in the fight against the spread of the virus.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) is tapping into local tech companies to innovate mobile software and web applications that could be installed in matatus to collect the fare. Once the system is in place, all passengers will have to use the mobile money platform to pay fare. According to a tender notice by NTSA Director-General George Njao, the authority is looking to introduce the mandatory use of cashless payments for all Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
The government will be able to access their personal information and contact details after the transactions, to help with contact tracing COVID-19 persons so that they can be isolated and treated.
“The cashless system will also provide a platform for the development of an effective contact tracing application to support the government effort in addressing the coronavirus pandemic,” he noted.
This cashless payment platform, if implemented will also ease the monitoring of infections where people who unknowingly come in contact with Coronavirus disease patients are identified and isolated before they can spread it.
“Interested applicants who may wish to register as service providers for the provision of contact tracing (passenger manifest) with a payment gateway service must submit their proposals on or before June 16,” Mr Njao said in the announcement published yesterday.
Previously the government has introduced digital payment systems, some which required passengers to have pre-paid cards or use mobile money for payment of fares in matatus, but they were strongly opposed by Matatu operators who were sceptical about the government’s motives.