6 January 2014

Kenya: Rethink Ban On Night Travel

There is no doubt that road carnage in Kenya is among the highest in the world. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has launched initiatives to bring the numbers down.

The most commendable perhaps is the introduction of joint operations between the National Transport and Safety Authority, the traffic police department and the judiciary where offenders are hauled before a mobile court and fined on the spot.

It is expected that the ban on night travel, especially for passenger vehicles, will also play in role in improving road safety. This directive in particular has been the cause of much consternation among travellers.

With schools re-opening and the New Year festivities coming to an end, demand for transport is at its peak. Hence there is need to weigh the needs of thousands of travellers stranded every day for the last week against the desire to reduce fatal road accidents. Under the new guidelines, any company found operating buses at night will be fined Sh50,000 while drivers will face a jail term not exceeding one year, or both. Many commuters are beating the system by pooling together in private vehicles.

Matatu and bus owners lament that the ban will result in the collapse of the sector. The NTSA and the ministry should enter into dialogue with the bus and matatu owners to see if there is another way to ferry stranded passengers without compromising on safety.

"I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers." -- Lebanese philosopher poet Kahlil Gibran was born on January 6, 1883

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