Shipping & Logistics

How buses are adjusting to life after night travel ban

Passengers struggle to board an Easy Coach Bus in Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE
Passengers struggle to board an Easy Coach Bus in Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

Operators of long distance vehicles are counting losses following the night travel ban that has pushed them to reorganise their fleets to minimise travellers’ pains.

National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) effected the ban on Sunday following an accident at Migaa, along the Eldoret-Nakuru highway, that claimed 36 lives.

Easy Coach has had to rearrange its fleet of 180 buses to deal with movement logistics such that the number of customers inconvenienced by the ban is reduced.

“We are suffering financially but if the ban is assisting in reducing road carnage and saving lives, then it is the most important thing. We have had to reorganise our buses,” said Azym Dossa, Easy Coach managing director.

Sources within Easy Coach said even before the ban was effected, there were customers that had been booked up to five days in advance.

“Right now we are trying to clear the backlog by checking out both the previous and current bookings so that nobody is left behind. We have had to increase our bus numbers to accommodate this new state of affairs.”

“We ensure that the last bus leaves Nairobi by 12.30pm to make it to the destination on time (within the restricted time)”

“I must admit though that the situation is a bit confusing as there are those travellers who do not know about the ban and only learn of it at the station.”

Coast based PSVs like Guardian Bus Services have had to suspend bookings to allow them handle only those who had booked in compliance with the new directive.

While acknowledging that there is a problem on the roads that needs to be addressed, the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) criticised the manner in which the ban was effected.

“Note that NTSA did not involve stakeholders prior to making the decision. What NTSA should do is call all stakeholders to the table so it’s agreed as how as a team, we move forward,” said Simon Kimutai, the MOA chairman.

NTSA ordered all travel operators to schedule their trips between 6 am and 7pm as the agency seeks to address the upsurge of fatal crashes across the country.

Mr Kimutai said it beats logic that the curfew kicks off so close to 7pm when most long distance passenger and cargo public service vehicles prefer to travel.

Over 400 PSVs are registered under MOA and make up its countrywide membership.

The ban he said is impacting negatively on business and that it would affect the economy in the long run as entrepreneurs grapple with movement of their merchandise.

Chaotic scenes have characterised several bus booking stations, with hundreds of travellers caught by surprise by the ban that took effect with immediate effect.

Following the ban, PSV companies had to cancel bookings for the Sunday night travel, forcing travelers to spend on accommodation with others opting to spend the night at the stations.