Since the official presidential flag off of “my 1963” a prepaid card used to pay fares, Matatu owners association has put in effort to create awareness within Nairobi in a quest to actualize the cashless system expected to be up and running later this year. A good number of matatu users might be familiar with 1963 agents hoping in and out of ‘matatus’ and dominating terminus points around town.
Following what matatu operators would term adequate information on the cash-lite system, ‘matatus’ commuting Nairobi’s Jogoo road will not take liquid cash as a form of payment starting Monday, 3rd February. Operating over 400 vehicles, Compliant, ROG, Prime East, Pin Point, C-Bet, Oma, Mwamba, Umoinner, Royal Swift will oversee that commuters only use cards as a form of payment and have receipts dished out from the current 1963 terminus.
Well, this seems like the best way to have Kenyans actualize the cashless system project a government’s child brain and flagship project. Still left to question is how sober the decision by the SACCOs is considering only 5-10% of Kenyans really know what the cards are all about. I was sure Kenyans more so Nairobians were well aware but chose to rebel like they have always done until this morning when an agent boarded a matatu I was in and began explaining how the card works ready to enroll more Kenyans to the system and…crickets*.
After a moment of weirdness, questions from clueless commuters (everyone but myself and probably three others) filled the vehicle to a point music had to be put off. (You should have seen my face) well, it is not about me but the shock I was in when questions like how the card could act on behalf of tangible cash even after very pronounced posters fill almost all vehicles plying the Ngong road route, when they needed to have the card even after card acquisition hit its deadline a month ago, why the brand ‘1963’ even after the president rode a matatu to show importance, seriousness and emphasis of the card not to forget logic which is originality; 1963 is the year we gained independence.
If this was one year ago, I would understand ignorance by Kenyans who are most privileged to have information sources at easy reach but being in the dark to date would either mean most of these Kenyans reside under a rock or they just moved in. posters, billboards, branded beings at the terminus, leaflets to name but a few have all the information you need to make the cashless system a reality as an individual with as little as ksh50 fare.
How it works;
First off, “my 1963” card among others is cost free and in most cases issued at bus terminus if not inside PSVs at the comfort of your seat. You will only require an identification card, valid phone number and date of birth. Individuals will then load their cards using mobile money service; M-PESA depending on how often the individual uses the means. Commuters can also load amounts from ksh50 up to ksh120,000. According to a verified 1963 agent, the amount put on the card does not work under any deadline even after months of no use.
The nine SACCOs working with the deadline serve a large part of Eastlands which would mean thousands of passengers missing vehicles to work if they do not comply with the terms.