Just a few days ago, five PSV Saccos with 250 vehicles plying Nairobi’s Jogoo road route joined hands with Fibre Space Ltd to use its cash light fare system ‘MY1963’ to end cash payments for matatu fares.
Today, four other saccos have joined the cash lite race putting the number of Matatus ready to ditch cash for 1963 to 410 vehicles in a move seen as the greatest shift ftom cash to the cash lite fare system. The Matatus say the move will begin this evening, February 2.
“The Matatu owners taking it upon themselves to switch over to the cards means that the transition will be fast and smooth,” said Mwakio Ngale, General Manager of Fiber Space Limited, which owns and runs the 1963 card system.
The nine SACCOs – Royal Swift, Mwamba, Umoinner, Pin Point, Prime East, Compliant, C-Bet, ROG, and Oma – will, from today through to Wednesday, be working with 50 route managers, based at all bus stations, who will be boarding each matatu to check that all passengers have receipts issued from the on-board 1963 terminals.
The nine SACCOs have alerted the police, informing Nairobi County Police Commandant Benson Kibue of the changeover, in order to secure the support of the authorities in achieving a smooth transition.
The SACCOs refusing to accept cash from today have some of the largest fleets along the Jogoo Road route, and run routes from Kayole, Donholm, Umoja, Outer Ring, Civil Servants, Buruburu, and Uhuru Estate. Conductors on the cash lite matatus will be wearing 1963 T-shirts today to aide commuters in identifying matatus that will only accept the 1963 cards as payment.
The 1963 cards are being distributed free, from all bus terminals, with registration requiring a national identification card, a valid phone number and date of birth information. Users can then load money onto their cards using Safaricom’s M-PESA (disclosure- Safaricom is a shareholder in Fibre Space Ltd, the my1963 parent firm)
From Wednesday, each 1963 matatu will have stickers inside giving SACCO hotline numbers for passengers to use in the event a conductor will not accept their 1963 fare card and demands cash. The SACCO chairmen say anyone who has a 1963 card with credit who is refused a ticket and receipt will travel for free, and the SACCOs will dismiss any conductor who continues accepting, or seeking, cash payments on the 1963 compliant matatus.
The 1963 card, which also gives passengers loyalty points to get free fares and offers fare credit facilities, will mean fixed fares, in future, in place of fare hikes during rain and at heavy traffic periods. The system will also see drivers and touts put onto formal salaries, with health benefits and credit facilities.