Internet outages costing Nairobi millions in revenue - Daily Nation

Nairobi losing millions in revenue due to internet, power outages

Monday February 19 2018

City Hall Nairobi

City Hall, the Nairobi City County headquarters. Nairobi County loses millions in revenue every month due to recurrent network fluctuations, power outages and weak enforcement by the county staff. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By COLLINS OMULO
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Nairobi County loses millions in revenue every month due to recurrent network fluctuations, power outages and weak enforcement mechanism by the county staff.

JamboPay CEO Danson Muchemi said that on average, internet outage occurs three days in a week leading to loss in revenue.

The firm is contracted by City Hall to collect revenue on its behalf and automate all its revenue streams.

Mr Muchemi said that in light of the above reasons, the county recorded a drop in daily revenue collection last month, which dipped to Sh40 million from Sh80 million despite the county having automated 131 out of 136 revenue streams.

“Internet disruptions usually affect our system and when the systems are down you cannot be able to check on who has paid and who still owes the county revenue. It also hinders officers at City Hall from issuing instant receipts to clients who have already paid,” Mr Muchemi said Monday.

This comes after a section of Nairobi MCAs called for the removal of JamboPay cashiers from City Hall, blaming them for the drop in the revenue collected.

FULL POTENTIAL NOT REACHED

Last week, while appearing before Nairobi assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, County Finance Executive Vesca Kangogo said that City Hall had not reached its full revenue collection potential due to slow internet connectivity and a weak enforcement mechanism.

Ms Kangogo blamed the JamboPay payment system, saying the county has been encountering challenges in verifying whether motorists had paid for parking as there was no physical evidence issued to the motorists, meaning that county workers could not easily identify vehicles that had not paid.

But Mr Muchemi differed with her saying that their payment system has a dashboard capable of tracking every parked vehicle in the city centre, its payment status whether it is compliant or not and being that the system is integrated and hosted within the modern data centre recently launched at the county, the county staff charged with tracking the payments can therefore identify any vehicle that has not paid.

RECONCILIATION OF FIGURES

“With the system you can post and read transactions even from City Hall and this makes reconciliation of the figures posted easier. You do not require any officer for you to pay or do verification,” he said.

He further refuted claims by MCAs that the system was experiencing downtime costing City Hall millions in lost revenue, explaining that Safaricom, which is the network provider, is to blame for the internet outage since it affects both City Hall and JamboPay systems.

“Internet problems cannot be blamed on us. It is common knowledge that City Hall has a pending Sh3.2 million debts owed to the service provider and that is responsible for the internet outage. When the internet is down, we also cannot access the system,” he added.

Concerning the dip in parking revenue in the last quarter, the JamboPay boss laid the blame squarely at the doors of county parking staff, stating that their weak enforcement mechanisms are to be blamed.

REAL-TIME INFORMATION

He asserted that the JamboPay system provides real-time information on vehicles that default on payment, straight from where they are parked and their registration numbers and all the City authorities have to do is clamp the vehicles.

To prove his point, Mr Muchemi provided their latest data for the month of February which showed that only 24,000 vehicles paid for parking while another 14,208 vehicles defaulted on payment but of this huge number, only 517 were clamped.

This data can be backed with the Auditor General’s report that revealed that in the 2015-2016 financial year, 38 percent of motorists in the city were non-compliant when it came to paying for parking services, meaning that out of every 100 vehicles parked, only 62 paid.

Additionally, Sh81.6 million had been collected from seasonal parking payments, Sh17.6 million from daily parking and another Sh1.04 million from parking penalties.

“Our system even shows the exact location where the non-compliant vehicles are parked and so we cannot be blamed when the county officials fail to act. Either City Hall does not have adequate personnel or the officers engage in corrupt dealings,” said Muchemi.

Ms Kangogo also called for roping in of alternative ways to collect revenue in parking such as the introduction of point of sale machines while demanding that the firm compensate the county for revenue lost during system downtimes.

But the JamboPay boss read mischief in the demands, saying that replacing a digital system with a manual one would take the county back in terms of its quest to digitise its streams besides causing a huge financial burden.