The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Passengers Face Delays Due to Night Travel Ban

PASSENGERS traveling back from Christmas festivities may face massive delays as organised transport companies report having exhausted reservations.

Most travelers will have to wait until January 12 to get bookings after majority of companies continue to record an upsurge in numbers of passengers ahead of resumption of work and schools opening next Monday.

A spot check on most bus termini in Nairobi yesterday revealed slow return to normalcy, with most operators maintaining usual fares to various destinations.

"We are charging Sh1,000 to Kisumu because there are not many passengers going in that direction but those travelling back to the city are paying Sh1,500," Kennedy Nyabuti, an operator at the Prestige Shuttles said.

Matatus plying the Meru and Eastern Corridor were abuzz with activities, as travellers jostled for the various nissans that charged between Sh450 and Sh600.

Travellers and operators have been compelled to adjust departure times, following a ban by government on night transport for all public service vehicles, in a move to curb road carnage.

Coast-bound buses have maintained fares between Sh1,600 and Sh2,200, with all having adjusted departure times. The last buses leave at 1pm to make it to Mombasa by 9pm.

Most managements were forced to reschedule their bookings to accommodate the current demand and other passengers who had made advance bookings.

"We have introduced 5am buses to cater for the passengers who had made night reservations, and are at the same time attending to others who are rushing to beat next week's deadline," Easy Coach employee, Elizabeth Chepkonga said. She said the company has maintained its fares that range between Sh1,400 and Sh1,500.

Speaking on the phone, Chepkonga said the company has put in place mechanisms to accommodate all its clients."We have been rescheduling the travel times to meet the needs of those who had reserved space," she said.

With a looming rush expected over the weekend and next week, most operators say they lack capacity to meet the demand that has partly been occasioned by the ban on night travel.

"All our buses are fully booked, as the demand has gone up, yet we have retained the same number of fleet that we have always had," Nerbert Jaranga, an Easy Coach clerk in Mumias said.

However, there were mixed reactions on the ban, with a section welcoming it, while others decried it for reducing their revenues.

"Since Christmas, we have not had many cases of carjackings and accidents as has always been the case," Nyabuti said. He appealed to the government to maintain the initiative beyond the festive season.

Alex Assava, a driver for a Machakos-bound bus appealed for the ban to be extended to trucks. He said trucks are major contributors to road accidents at night. PSV owners have called on the government to lift the ban.

They said it is punitive and meant to push them out of business. "We have implemented all TLB requirements and ensured to employ two drivers as required by the National Transport Safety Authority," Prestige Shuttles CEO, Robert Muli said.

"It is common knowledge that accidents are caused by town service vehicles that have rerouted to long distance during this festive season."

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