Bus owners to face charges over crash

Francis Meja
National Transport and Safety Authority boss Francis Meja. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Transport regulator on Wednesday admitted that the bus which crashed in Kericho killing 52 people while being driven by a driver in his 70s was operating illegally.

National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) director- general Francis Meja said the bus known as Home Boyz under the management of Western Cross Roads Express Sacco had disregarded its public transport rules on night travel.

“This vehicle had no licence to transport passengers at night and the owners will have to take responsibility,” he told NTV Sasa show. “They will face the law and we will take them to court to answer to charges.”

The morning crash, which happened at 4.30am, is one of the most horrendous accidents in the recent months on the new highway that was built in 2015 to shorten the distance for travellers between Kisumu and Nakuru.

The bus swerved off the road plunging off a steep slope and rolled several times, the police said.

“The initial report we have is that the driver lost control of the vehicle,” said local Police Commander James Mugera said at the scene.

Witnesses and survivors claimed that the driver of the bus was speeding on a road that has poor signage and sharp bends. They added that the driver might have dozed off since it was early in the morning after driving for most of the night from Nairobi.

But the road, critics said, is poorly marked, has sharp bends and is not busy, giving vehicles the leeway to speed.

On Wednesday, the owner of the bus, Cleophas Shimanyula, defended his driver who he only identified as Lucas, a veteran who joined the buses in 2010.

“What has happened is quite unfortunate since we have operated for the last 16 years without our vehicles being involved in fatal accidents,” he said at the scene, adding he did not know the fate of the driver and the conductor.

He declined to explain why the bus was operating at night without a licence to do so.

Mr Mugera told journalists that 31 men, 12 women and seven children had died in the horror crash. This bus carrying 61 people also had loads of luggage, which were strewn around the ravine as it plunged through the road beams.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said three officials of the sacco would be charged in court.