Nairobi — Sixty-six Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators were arrested on Saturday night for operating without special licences for night travel.
Traffic Commandant Samuel Kimaru told Capital FM News that the consequences of flouting this requirement would get even more dire come Sunday night as operators would run the additional risk of getting their Transport Licencing Board (TLB) permits revoked.
"We cannot be singing the same song every day so unless you're licenced to work at night you should be off the road by 6pm or we'll make sure you you're off the road after 6am as well because you clearly have no regard for traffic regulations," he said.
Kimaru said the decision was reached after consultations with the National Transport and Safety Authority which has been charged with issuing the licences.
The requirement that PSVs obtain special night travel licences came into force on December 24 on the back of Legal Notice 219 of December 16 of the National Transport and Safety Authority Act.
According to the regulations under Legal Notice 219 of the National Transport and Safety Authority Act, every operator of a nighttime long distance passenger service, must first ensure they employ two drivers certified by the authority.
These drivers should also not be behind the wheel for more than eight hours and get at least eight hours off thereafter.
They are also expected to ensure that they and their passengers get a half-hour break after every three to four hours on the road.
The timing of the ban on night travel. except under special licence, has come under criticism from a section of the public and PSV operators who are keen to make the most of the holiday rush.
"Instead of focusing on our business at this crucial time we are busy running around trying to get this licence. Accidents also happen during the day and I think the government should have first removed all the trucks and not PSVs," Modern Coast Nairobi Manager Mohamed Omar lamented immediately following the ban.
Transport Principal Secretary Nduva Muli however maintained that the ban could not have come at a better time, "there are more people travelling long distances over the holiday season and operators looking to make hay while the sun shines are focused more on making as many trips as possible than on safety."
And as the police crack the whip on PSV operators who do not meet the requirements for night travel, Muli has urged the public to make double sure the buses and matatus they board after 6pm and before 6am have the necessary paper work.
"The licence should be on prominent display for the public to see and not be caught off guard as the police do their jobs."