The ban on night travel by public service vehicles has suffered a huge blow after a court in Nakuru released drivers who had been charged with driving at night saying there is no law that prohibits night travel.
Nakuru Resident Magistrate Nancy Makau released 13 drivers who were arrested on Thursday night and taken to court on account that the vehicles they were driving did not have a licence allowing them to operate during those hours. Passengers who were in the 13 vehicles including two buses belonging to Coast Air were forced to spend the night at Mwariki Police Station. The vehicles were released to their owners on Friday morning but the drivers taken to court.
“Looking at provisions of NTSA Act, the charges as brought to court do not create an offence and as such the charge sheet is thus not admitted under Section 89 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” said the magistrate.
Makau ruled that there are no provisions in law to support the policy, which was effected on December 31. She said there is no requirement that allows the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to issue any special licence to a driver who wants to be allowed to travel at night.
NTSA and the National Police Service in their joint statement issued on New Year’s Eve said all public service travel will be between 6am and 7pm.
“Our records indicate that majority of crashes occur at night; in order to improve road safety, the authority in consultation with other relevant government agencies suspends night travel for all long distance public service vehicles from December 31,” they said.
The ban was effected after 36 people died when a bus heading to Nairobi from Busia collided with a trailer at Salgaa. NTSA has, however, since been ordered off the roads after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the traffic police to take over enforcement of road safety.
According to NTSA, 67 per cent of accidents involving passenger vehicles happen at night. PSV operators say that while they do not oppose the ban, the times should be adjusted so as to cushion the sector from losses.
“We want the ban adjusted to midnight and not 7pm; we also want to be allowed to start the journey at 5am in the morning,” Matatu Owners Association chair said last week.