Passengers Left Stranded in Nairobi Over Mobile Money Delays

A photo of motorists using two lanes to access the Mombasa CBD from Buxton
A photo of motorists using two lanes to access the Mombasa CBD from Buxton

A section of Kenyan passengers on Tuesday afternoon complained of being held hostage inside matatus after experiencing mobile money delays.

For the better part of Tuesday, Kenyans were unable to transact online through mobile money, hence disrupting businesses that are heavily dependent on using mobile phones to carry out transactions.

Speaking to, a passenger who was travelling from Nairobi's Central Business District (CBD) complained that the touts declined all mobile money transactions, hence forcing those without cash to be left stranded.

The passenger explained that the tout did not allow those who had already boarded the matatus to alight if they hadn't paid in cash.

Nairobi Central Business District
Nairobi Central Business District

He noted that another passenger paid their fare after the latter sensed that the situation with the tout was about to degenerate into a confrontation.

"The person who I sat next to paid my fare, otherwise, the conductor had declined all of us who hadn't paid in cash to alight," he detailed.

Brendan Marshall, a Senior Matatus Owners Association (MOA) member, explained to that the sudden mobile money delays caught everyone off-guard.

However, he assured all passengers that various matatu Saccos had agreed that they would inform all passengers that the only mode of payment allowed would be cash until the time the mobile money service is restored.

He added that some passengers innovated and arranged with other commuters who had cash to pay for them and they would send the money back once mobile money service providers restored the services.

"I've seen in some cases, some passengers are paying for each other to ensure they are not stranded.

"My take is that if as a country we will need to go cashless, these are some challenges we will need to be wary of. Are the systems prepared to go cashless?" he posed.

"For instance, tell me how many losses businesses have incurred today?"

Marshall advised that passengers should always have cash in hand when travelling in matatus to avoid future inconveniences.

"Let's also have a backup, cash in hand," he stated.

Following hours of experiencing delays, one of the main telcos in the country issued a statement revealing that the service had been restored in the afternoon and that Kenyans could now transact normally.

"All mobile money services are now available. We apologise for any inconveniences caused, and thank you for your patience as we worked to restore services," the telco stated. 

A person using a mobile phone
A person using a mobile phone.
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