In many African countries shared taxi systems, usually based on 15- or 22-seater minibuses, form the backbone of public transport. In Kenya it is the matatus which provide public transport. But whereas cash, usually passed from the back of the (mini)bus to the person sitting next to the driver, was the norm, the BBC discovered that from now on, the country’s matatus have been instructed to change to a new cashless system. At least three companies are already using the new fare system, which operates in a similar way to London’s Oyster card, with passengers pre-loading plastic cards with money and swiping them across a reader on board. Thousands of Kenyan commuters use the brightly painted, crowded minibuses every day. But so far only 2.000 out of 20.000 matatus have complied with the new rules. The regulator is not extending the deadline, but will allow cash to be used alongside the new system. .
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), responsible for implementing the policy, hopes it will help to tackle corruption and increase government tax revenue. Matatu operators have also seen benefits: a company running a pilot had seen revenue go up by 30% in two months. But other matatu-operators complained that neither the public nor the operators had been properly educated about the new system.
• In Kenya brightly coloured minibuses (matatus) run as bus-taxis and form the backbone of public transport. Photo: BBC.