Wangui Githugo, Bernard Gitau and Murimi Mutiga @PeopleDailyKe
Thousands of long distance travellers yesterday bore the brunt of the night travel ban by National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). Passengers were stranded at most bus stations in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa after some companies suspended operations for Sunday evening.
The situation is bound to worsen this morning and in the coming days as schools reopen. In Mombasa, hundreds of passengers who had booked buses hoping to travel on Sunday night were left stranded with many forced to sleep in the cold.
Those travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa had to make stopovers for the night at Mariakani while those heading to Kisumu from Mombasa slept inside the buses at Kericho. Long distance Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators and passengers have protested the night travel ban imposed and called for its immediate suspension. Bus companies said yesterday that the night travel ban had caused confusion and untold suffering on passengers who were caught unawares.
“The suspension has not only caused confusion, it has messed up transport services for many operators and disrupted plans for many Kenyans. This ban came without any notice,” said Adel Mirza, a director at Coast Bus Limited.
Mirza accused NTSA of failing to consult all stakeholders while making decision saying trucks were to blame for rise in road accidents. NTSA on its twitter account yesterday empathised with travellers and clarified that the decision to suspend night travel was arrived at after careful considerations and discussions by the ministries of Transport and Interior.
“The National Police and NTSA, after consultation with the Cabinet secretaries for Transport and for Interior found it necessary to come to this decision for public good and safety. We regret the inconvenience caused by the suspension. However, the need to review the current road safety measures is paramount to both the authority and the police,” reads the tweet.
The authority spoke even as matatu stakeholders hit out at the authority accusing it of being a haven of corruption. Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairman Dickson Mbugua said NTSA had become ineffective as road carnage continues to claim lives. “We are calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to restructure NTSA and have the director general and other departmental heads vetted afresh,” said Mbugua.