Nairobi Drivers Expected To be tech savvy.

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Since voting in the ‘Digital government’ Digitization has become part of every sector in the government with a number of departments already running digitally. Transport has been one particular sector the government has put in work to transition.

Yet another one, the government has introduced a cashless payment system that will require motorists create an e-wallet which they will be topping up with money to pay parking fees as opposed to the usual hustle where drivers have been forced to look for county council individuals to pay the fees. Going on for a long time, parking attendants have arbitrary clamped vehicles to extort money from clients. The government aims at putting a stop to the act and eradicating corruption as well.

Android users can download the Nairobi City County Application from Google Play Store where motorists will have access to the county’s website where they can register and make all electronic payments for parking. Payments will include clamping fees.

This definitely is confusing and drivers without Android phones may feel exceptional. The applications should be open to other operating systems or even better roll out plastic cards that will be much easier for any motorist driving into the city. However, the payment system includes mobile platforms; M-Pesa, Airtel, VISA, Mastercard, Orange Money, YuCash, Kenwitch and Cooperative as well.

By dialing *217#, a motorists will be required to enter their First Name, Identification number, year of birth and pin of choice in order to open an e-wallet on their phones. This will be followed by a confirmation of the account and a menu the motorist is expected to choose from depending on the type of payment. Once one has paid, they will receive a text to confirm payment, in the case an individual needs a print out, they will log into the website and print.

Attendants will go around with a GPS enabled device, type in number plate and tell whether one has parked or not. The system will also assist them know whether the motorist has paid or not. The system is expected to maximize on tax revenues in the city from about ksh2.2 million per day to a 30 per cent increase. This will seal loopholes created by the manual system. On the other hand, Motorist will conveniently pay for parking fees.

The system has been termed mandatory for all motorists within Nairobi County not sure how easy that will turn out. May be the mention of using an application may sound complicated but also paying only via mobile money is putting complexity into the payment process. Motorists will have to ensure they load up parking money into their phones in readiness to perform the transaction. Use of plastic cards, fixed fee payment at point of entry would make much sense to a person who needs to dash into a meeting real fast.

The government will from Monday, 25th August roll out a one week pilot phase of the system along Nairobi’s Haile Selassie Avenue. Attendants will be available to help motorists use the system. This is to create awareness on the changes to be made. The council has printed and distributed fliers on the same.

This comes after the government launched the cashless payment system for Public Service vehicles which unfortunately is still pending following derailment by parties of interest. The move was in a bid to tackle corruption as well as increase government tax revenue. The system was put on hold by The National Transport and Safety Authority since ‘matatu’ operators as well as service providers were not fully ready to roll out.

The space is also to allow enough creation of awareness to the public. Before rolling out the cashless parking system, awareness will be a good strategy before anything else. Kenyans are first off keen about a system when introduced but without emphasis, we have watched some already go down the drain. Digitization would mean ease in operations without waste of time.

Efforts to roll out the system are in order but I really don’t think the country is ready for the kind of technology. Efficiency should start from the attendants and coordination of operations by the council before passing the handle to clients. It is not a one case trend where systems kick off only to be discarded after a while.

Knowledge and exposure are key factors in rolling out new systems. Compatibility with the consumers should also be determined prior since at the end of the day, it depends on the consumers not the operators. Haste should be ruled out since the way individuals handle and react to the technology rolled out is what that matters and will determine how efficient and effective it will be to the public.

The government should ensure system backup and invest in high technology system to avoid backtracking to the manual system like it has happened before. Systems should not only be rolled out in the name of digitization but with a strategy that should play as back up for maintenance and support purposes.

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Winfred Kuria
Winfred Kuria is a self-constituted web content writer in charge of Tech News and Events Publicity at Kachwanya.com. She will communicate in the simplest way possible with an aim of changing the world one mind at a time.
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