SANITIZING FRAUD? President Kenyatta (left) being shown how #My1963 system works

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 thanks to the very 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 at Article 10 and denies public-interest information as legitimately expected under Article 35.

Second, Kenya is a country 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 aid 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 3 weeks to the implementation date.

From the foregoing, our considered fears are as follows;

(a)   That consumer interest, and by extension public interest, has been totally lost at the altar of commercial and political interest

(b) That the #My1963 and the entire PSV’s cashless payment system as presently packaged, styled and stage-managed has the trappings of a high level fraud

(c)  That PSV’s will end up increasing fares to cover for the 3% transaction fee and the system is unconstitutional as it could be discriminatory. No mechanisms are in place to protect the consumer on this.

(d) The implementation of the payment system will occasion a massive crisis in the transport sector during this festive season

Consequently, we urge;

(a)  The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK); the Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) to urgently investigate the #My1963 and entire cashless payment system with a view to finding it uncompetitive, predatory and anti-consumer and market interest

(b) NTSA to indefinitely suspend the process until such time they can convince Kenyans that they are ready to roll out effectively and within the legal thresholds

(c)  President Kenyatta to order State House and or influential politicians affiliated to the so-called “SkyTeamFixers” to keep clear of the cashless payment system.

(d) The Attorney General to confirm or deny if his office has scrutinized the process and contracts and whether the same conforms to the law. He needs to advise whether or not it was appropriate for the President to grace the launch of #My1963

(e) Commuters to continue paying in cash until such a time they will be advised. In the meantime, commuters must shun and report all PSV's which shall insist on the cashless fare come December 1.

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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