Outlawing Cash Payment On Public Transport Is Wrong

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So the Government gazetted regulations that will outlaw the use of cash for bus fare payments starting July 2014. According to techmoran.com:

“Every operator of licensed public service vehicles shall ensure that passengers are issued with tickets or receipts for fare paid and, as from the 1st July, 2014, it operates on a cashless fare system,” read the regulations in part.

Outlaw? Really!!  Not making sense in many ways. Yes cashless payment is much better and I personally have campaigned for it  for years. But you can’t say you outlaw cash payment. There things which are good and need to be done but the society needs to evolve before going out right into some of those things. At this point in time cashless payment will be great for some in Kenya, but unfortunately majority of Kenyans are still not ready for such drastic shift. To start with, this should be left for market forces to determine the time and speed of adopting cashless mode of payment and not some sort of directive from the Government.

Taxation is one of the reason why the cashless payment is attractive to the Government. But it point to a bigger problem than how it looks from outside. It is actually a clear indication that  that Government has not been able to do its work. Believe it or not it is  a classic case of lazy Government (KRA ) waiting for the Cashless payment companies to hand the individual personal data to them . For example they will simply go to Safaricom (LipaNaMpesa) or Equity Bank/Google( Bebapay) and ask for the transaction history for the people using public transport.

I think  it is time we talk about personal data stored by companies like Safaricom and who should be allowed to access them. This issue was brought up by RoomThinker sometime back on his blog but I guess people did not take him seriously.

The relevant sections are two.

One is under Privacy, Section 4

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The other is under Disclosure & Data Retention, Section 16

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Now, I am no lawyer but handing our data to KRA to data mine does not strike me as being within genuine inquiry or investigation.

In fact, the only way genuine inquiry can be stretched to allow what KRA wants would be if KRA says we suspect EVERYONE of tax evasion so hand over everyone’s data

Is Safaricom handing over our data in breach of their own agreement?

Read the full story here

I think KRA should have a proper way to collect taxes from the public transport vehicles regardless on how people using them pay their transport cost. I mean cash or cashless, that does not matter, a competent Government should have a way to get them to pay their taxes. Although, it is called public transport , people there are doing private business to start with. Meaning they should be allowed to accept any form of payment. If a given vehicle decide to say that they will not take cash then that should be fine but not the Government banning a certain mode of payment

It is also understandable that the Government is trying to show that they are digital after making it a big deal during the campaign period . So far they have not done anything which show that they are truly digital a part from numerous hashtags on Twitter and the launch of  some useless websites like the one for reporting corruption to the President. But people behind such proposal need to research, think and understand the makeup of a country they are dealing with before making such proposal

There is no doubt that  the Government is under pressure to reign on the rogue matatu operators but the way they have been going about is very wrong. The number one problem in Kenyan roads is lack of discipline and I only wish someone in the Government would take his/her to study how Michuki dealt with the same issue.

 

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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