The Transport and Licensing Appeals Board has overturned a decision by the National Transport and Safety Authority to blacklist 10 public service vehicles in Nyeri for operating on undesignated routes.
The board, led by Dick Waweru, Aden Noor Ali and Kiarie Mwaura, ordered the NTSA to reinstate the operating licences for Nyena Sacco matatus.
The sacco filed an appeal through its chairman Peter Theuri accusing the agency of blacklisting the vehicles without a formal reason and without according it an opportunity to defend itself.
"NTSA punished us verbally without giving us a hearing and ordered that we surrender the Road Service Licence (RSL).
"We were not notified of the charges brought against us to be able to answer them," Mr Theuri said.
The vehicles were impounded and their licences revoked on July 2 this year. It was claimed that their crew and passengers were involved in an altercation with NTSA officers in Timau, on the Nanyuki-Meru highway.
The matatus had been hired by university students to transport them to a sports event in Meru County.
He added that the punishment was unfair and unreasonable, noting that some of the vehicles were bought through bank loans.
But William Ndeto, the licensing officer, defended the action, saying that the deregistered vehicles did not have short-term licences that would allow them to ply the route.
Mr Ndeto added that the matatu crew had incited the passengers to rough up the officers.
He said the vehicles are only authorised to operate on the Nairobi-Nakuru-Nyahururu-Nyeri-Nanyuki routes.
Mr Ndeto told the tribunal that NTSA officers have a prerogative to enforce safety.
However, the tribunal found the agency's actions excessive and directed the traffic commandant to ensure the vehicles are not impounded again after being released.