2 January 2018

Kenya: Thousands Stranded As Night Travel Ban Bites

Photo: Nairobi News

Hundreds of travellers were on Monday stranded as a transport hitch hit various parts of the country following Sunday's ban on night bus travel by the National Transport and Safety Authority.

Bus companies and urban businesses -- the latter which rely heavily on the labour stranded upcountry after the year-ender festivities -- were left counting heavy losses as the shock directive took effect.

In various towns across the country, travellers who had made advance bookings were forced to spend cold nights inside stationary buses.

Others were forced to return home and wait for the rush to ebb. Parents and students rushing back to school for the new term, which begins on Tuesday, were the most affected.

The NTSA, whose decision has been termed as a futile and needlessly punitive knee-jerk reaction, said the ban, which restricts long-distance passenger service vehicles to travel between 6am and 7pm, was in response to the rising number of road accidents at night.


NTSA director-general Francis Meja defended the ban as "well thought-out despite the inconveniences it had caused travellers and bus companies".

"The decision was arrived at after careful consideration and discussions for public good and safety," Mr Meja said on Monday in a statement.

But passenger service operators criticised the ban as retrogressive and ill-advised.

Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairman Dickson Mbugua said it was a poorly thought-out unilateral decision that has no place in the 21st century.

"We are surprised that the agency could stoop that low," said Mr Mbugua. "We think this is a unilateral decision that has no board blessings. Many PSV owners are struggling to repay their loans after a year distorted by politics, which has been costly to the business community. And how will those preparing to go back to school or places of work cope?"

The ban caused a major transport hitch in Western Kenya as hundreds of passengers spent the second day in the cold at bus stations.


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