The cashless fare system for matatus will be implemented gradually, the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) said on Monday.
The reprieve came as matatu owners and crews in different parts of the country said they were not ready to implement the system that was meant to come into force on Tuesday.
NTSA director general Francis Meja said not all players were ready for the system and the process would, therefore, be gradual.
He blamed matatu and bus operators and gadget vendors for the delay.
“Some operators are compliant while others are not. We will be flexible to allow use of cash for the meantime,” he said.
Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua said operators needed more time to educate commuters, whom he said do not know where to buy the cards or how to use the system.
“The government is taking this matter very seriously, but my appeal to them is to implement this system gradually. Let us not rush,” he said.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that most PSVs in Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa, Kisumu, Kwale, Bungoma, Nyamira, Kakamega, Migori and Kericho were not ready.
At the Coast, the Mombasa Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman, Mr Ali Batesi said they were ready to embrace the system but they were waiting for its efficiency and effectiveness to be tested and authorisation by the Central Bank of Kenya.
He blamed the government for failing to educate the public about the system.
Coast MOA co-ordinator Salim Mbarak Salim called on Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau and the National Transport and Safety Authority to advertise the approved service providers for the new payment system.
In Nakuru, matatu owners asked the government to defer the implementation of the system.
Nakuru MOA chairman Steven Muli said operators needed more time because the system was new and the process of fixing the digital equipment time-consuming and expensive.
Mr Evans Mwangi, a commuter, said the system would complicate travelling, especially in the event a PSV breaks down.
“Travellers will be forced to face unnecessary delays as they wait for money to be exchanged,” he said.
In Nyamira, the police are yet to meet with matatu operators to agree on ways of implementing the system. Area police boss Riko Ngare on Monday said there was need for training before the system is used.
In Kakamega County, the use of cash went on as usual in Mumias, Butere and Matungu towns.
Mumias traffic boss Joseph Siso said it was up to matatu saccos to embrace the new system.
“It is not the police, but matatu owners through respective saccos to implement it,” he said.
In Kericho, Mr Samson Mutai Bartuiyot, the chairman of the South Rift Transport Sacco, also said it would be very difficult to immediately start asking commuters to pay electronically when most of them did not have a clue how to go about it.
And the chairman of the Kericho Matatu Association, Mr Kipkorir Ng’etich, also called for more time, saying this would allow matatu operators to educate their customers and help them adapt to the new system.
In Nyeri, matatu saccos that ply the Nyeri-Nairobi route said it would be illegal to stop people from using cash to pay for transport. One sacco said it would go to court should the government impose the cashless system.
Reported by Henry Nyarora, Zeddy Sambu, Stephen Muthini, George Munene, Eric Matara, Wachira Mwangi, John Shilitsa, Elisha Otieno, Elizabeh Ojina and Timothy Kemei.