Night travel ban caught many travelers by surprise, leaving them stranded

Passengers stranded in Kakamega town after the NTSA ban night travel. BY DUNCAN OCHOLLA

The ban on night travel caught many travellers by surprise, leaving thousands stranded across the country.

There were chaotic scenes at several bus booking stations in Mombasa from New Year’s Eve to yesterday following the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) ban on night travel by public service vehicles.

The ban prompted the cancellation of scheduled bookings for workers, students, and other travellers who were to travel on Sunday night.

Most of those affected spent the night at booking offices after bus companies started complying with the new directive.

Mr Robert Muinde, a Mombasa-based clearing and forwarding executive, protested at the order.

“While we applaud any move meant to curb road carnage, the ban on night travel ought to have been made early. We have camped here for over 12 hours after my daughter, who was heading to school in Tala in Machakos, failed to travel on Sunday,” he said at the Coast Bus Mombasa main booking office.

Another passenger, Sammy Omollo, said he had to seek accommodation in Mombasa since he had arrived from Shimoni in Kwale for onward travel to Nairobi on Sunday evening, but could not do so due to the ban.

Mr Adil Mirza, a director at Coast Bus, termed the directive a knee-jerk reaction that caught the operators off-guard.

He added that the company's buses destined for Kisumu and western Kenya that had left Mombasa had to spend the night at Mariakani and those from the opposite direction had to stop at Kericho when it got dark.


“We have been completely disorganised as our travel schedule plans have now collapsed as a result of the night travel ban,” Mirza said.

At Mash Bus East Africa, Mombasa terminal, the general manager, Lennox Shallo, said the management had held a crisis meeting after the ban to come up with a temporary work plan.

The ban also saw travellers from western Kenya made to spend the night in Nakuru town.

Mr Kevin Muhadi, who was travelling from Eldoret to Nairobi, said he had to cut short his journey and spend the night in the town.

Three vehicles belonging to Great Rift Shuttles were parked outside a restaurant in Barnabas area in Nakuru.

Several vehicles belonging to other PSV saccos also stopped at the Barnabas trading centre at nightfall.

NTSA imposed the ban after a road accident at Migaa on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway that claimed 36 lives on Sunday morning.

In Uasin Gishu County, the ban on night travel by PSVs has been met with mixed reactions.

Kennedy Kipkoech, a resident of Eldoret, said it would affect the country’s economy.

He said the ban was unfair to those in the matatu business.

John Mbuthia said the ban would lead to increased fares for travellers.


“The ban means that more people will be travelling during the day. Matatu operators can now increase fares to the amount they want and since Kenyans are desperate to travel back to work, they will pay. Who will protect people from the skyrocketing fares?” asked Mbuthia.

Seline Mburu lauded the, ban saying it would help curb accidents.

Gillean Kibet claimed the ban would not stop road carnage and urged NTSA to come up with proper guidelines for road safety.

In Kakamega town, some travellers who had booked tickets were caught unawares by the directive.

A few said they spent the night in the cold after they were informed of the ban when they arrived at Kakamega Bus Park ready to travel.

Speaking to The Standard yesterday, Henry Alubala, who works in Nairobi, said the ban saw several bus companies hike their fares from Sh1,500 to Sh2,500.

Mathews Libasia, a passenger, faulted the ban, terming it ill-timed.

“It will inconvenience many people who travelled upcountry to celebrate with their families during the Christmas season,” he said.

The managements of bus and shuttle companies said the ban had taken a toll on their profits.

Kawere Bus Connections manager Jackson Jumba said the company's revenue had dropped by 60 per cent.

He said this had prompted the management to hike fares to Sh2,000 to cushion the company against further losses.


Evans Amala, an Eldoret Express assistant manager, said travellers harassed him on the eve of the new-year on learning that they could not travel at night, yet they had booked tickets.

In Kisumu, hundreds of travellers spent New Year’s Eve in the cold.

Public transport companies had to cancel bookings for Sunday night travel, prompting travellers to either spend extra money on accommodation or spend the night at the stations.

A spot-check revealed that most passengers did not know about the ban.

At Transline Bus Services, ticketing clerks said they called all passengers who had booked to inform them of the change in travel schedules.

The same situation was reported at Guardian Bus Services, where the operator had to suspend further bookings.

While established bus companies could offer waiting lounges to shelter their clients as they waited for the rescheduled trips, the passengers at the main bus stages had to persevere the cold.

Passengers who had booked their tickets as early as 7am on Sunday had to wait until yesterday morning to travel.

“I came here in the morning and booked the night bus. The information on the ban on night travel came after I had booked, so I have reported here for my journey and I am told I have to wait till tomorrow,” said Mark Ouma, a passenger at one of the bus companies plying the Kisumu-Nairobi route.

In Nyeri, hundreds of passengers travelling to Mombasa where stranded.

Two PSV saccos – Chania Genesis and 2NK Sacco – had to reschedule their planned trips to Mombasa after the ban.

Passengers hoping to travel yesterday and had booked their tickets were informed via text message that their trips had been postponed to today and tomorrow due to the ban.

One of those affected, Phillip Mwangi, said the delay would inconvenience him as he was supposed to report to work today.

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said the ban was a knee-jerk reaction that had come too late.

Gachagua, who is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, said the loss of lives on Kenyan roads was due to lack of enforcement of the law by the relevant agencies.


“Coming up with directives when road accidents happen is not going to curb them. I think we should look at traffic police and the NTSA enforcement arms to establish why they are not enforcing the laws in place,” he said.

Gachagua, who was speaking at Ichuga PCEA church in Mathira constituency, said calls to disband NTSA were ill-informed and should be shelved to give the authority a chance to carry out its mandate.