The National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) plan to go cashless on fare payments effective December 1, 2014 – though welcome – cannot escape public scrutiny. Clearly, majority commuters are not ready for it, thanks to the poor and less than transparent handling of the cashless fare payments for Public Service Vehicles (PSV’s).

If digital migration switch-off of analogue TV signal could go to the Supreme Court, then the architects behind the so-called #My1963 fraud must not celebrate just yet. Why?

First, Article 46 of the Constitution grants consumers of such services the right to “reasonable quality as well as information necessary for them to gain full benefit”. Information around the PSVs cashless payment is scanty and designed to suit all except the consumer. The move is against the National Values in Article 10 and denies public-interest information as legitimately expected under Article 35.

Second, Kenya is run under the rule of law. Nowhere in the Constitution and or any law, consistent with the Constitution, is it written or implied that PSV’s fare payment is compulsorily cashless.

Third, there has been little transparency on the move to over-burden taxpayers and consumers with unreasonable transaction fees of 3% of the gross collections from the over 80,000 PSV’s making an average Sh20,000 per day gross daily gross income. From modest figures, of say 50,000 PSV’s, an exorbitant 3% commission agreed between the NTSA’s technology provider and the banks will run into billions at the expense of the consumer.

Fourth, it is clear that the main objective behind NTSA’s push for cashless payment is to help the technology providers and banks to make money from unsuspecting consumers of transport services. Consumers have literally no benefit.

Fifth, there was no competition in procurement of the technology provider and the participating banks. This is contrary to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act and the Public Finance Management Act.

Six, there is lack of clarity on the role of State House ICT Director Mr Dennis Itumbi, Nairobi Senator Mr Mike Sonko and exactly as to whether Mr Simon Kimutai of the Matatu Owners Association can purport to represent all PSV’s in the scheme. As the Commercial Bank of Africa is linked to the First Family through its’ partnership with Safaricom Ltd on M-Shwari, questions must be asked if President Kenyatta’s involvement in the launch was appropriate and whether the Attorney General advised him appropriately as to the signed contract, if any, and its’ conformity to provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution.

Seven, apart from isolated banks offering self-serving information, there has been no impartial public education on the PSV’s cashless payment system less than three weeks to the implementation date. The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), the Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) should urgently investigate the #My1963 and the entire cashless payment system with a view to finding it uncompetitive, predatory and anti-consumer and market interest.

NTSA should indefinitely suspend the process until such time they can convince Kenyans that they are ready to roll out effectively and within the legal thresholds. Lastly, we will have no option than launch a legal challenge against the perpetrators of this injustice to consumers in the event we fail to receive timely answers soonest possible.

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