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Ban night travel by trucks instead: Mixed reactions greet NTSA directive

Stranded passengers in Kisii town wait for vehicles to take them back to Nairobi on January 1, 2018. They have been affected by NTSA's night travel ban. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG
Stranded passengers in Kisii town wait for vehicles to take them back to Nairobi on January 1, 2018. They have been affected by NTSA's night travel ban. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

Some bus owners are urging the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to also take action against all long-distance night travel by trucks in order to stem road carnage along major highways.

According to a Coast-based Public Service Vehicles (PSV) firm, trucks are mostly to blame for fatal accidents that have claimed more than 200 lives in the last month alone.

Coast Bus director, Adil Ijaz, termed the night travel ban imposed by NTSA as unfair, harsh and too abrupt, adding that passengers travelling back to Nairobi had been inconvenienced by the move.

“The ban has caused transport difficulties. Stop trucks from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. as opposed to buses. After all, we were never consulted over the night travel ban,” he said while blaming long-distance trucks driven carelessly along major highways for risking the lives of other road users.

A stranded passenger, Mary Tunje, who was travelling to Nairobi to take her son to school termed the ban as a knee-jerk reaction by government.

“It is unfair, we are suffering because we can’t travel overnight and it is very sad. Why should passengers bear the brunt? There are no busses...we don’t know how and when our children will travel back to school,” she decried.

Consult stakeholders

Mr Ijaz reckons the transport agency should have sat with industry stakeholders to consult on how they could help curb deadly road accidents.

“NTSA should have given us time to adjust but they just slapped an immediate ban on us, as a result the buses that were travelling to Kisumu, Bungoma and Malaba had to spend the night at Mariakani,” he said while accusing the Authority of lacking proper planning.

Stranded passengers at Easy Coach offices ponder their next move on December 31, 2017, shortly after the night travel ban. Photo | Jeff Angote | Nation

Stranded passengers at Easy Coach offices in Nairobi ponder their next move on December 31, 2017 after the night travel ban. Photo | Jeff Angote | Nation

"Not affected"

However, some transport companies have taken NTSA's ban in stride and moved to quickly restructure bus travel times in order to comply with the directive.

“We immediately convened a meeting to strategise. When the ban was effected, we issued our passengers with day busses. We have complied with the directive for our own safety. The ban was abrupt but passengers will not suffer,” Mash East Africa General Manager Lenox Shallo said Monday.

Selective bans

The Matatu Owners Association Coast coordinator, Salim Mbarak, has urged authorities to consider imposing bans on select bus companies that do not comply with traffic regulations.

“We support the ban on night bus travel. But it will be unfair to ban upcountry busses such as Coast Bus, Spanish, Modern Coast and others that have complied with traffic rules and have two drivers,” said Mr Mbarak today.

He said it wasn't fair that some companies have been vetted and complied with traffic rules yet they are affected by the NTSA directive.

Mr Mbarak also urged the Authority to vet all bus saccos and PSV drivers to ensure safety od road users.

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