Night travel ban for buses poor decision

Wednesday January 3 2018

By EDITORIAL
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The transport crisis triggered by the whimsical decision to ban night travel by public service vehicles is a terrible indictment on the National Transport and Safety Authority.

With schools opening this week and workers returning to work after the vacation, that could not have come at a worse time.

As our reports indicate, hundreds of stranded travellers across the country were forced to incur huge expenses on unplanned accommodation or doomed to suffer vagaries of the weather for lack of means to their destinations.

What was billed as a panacea has morphed into a human crisis with serious economic consequences.

We have consistently argued that the problem is not night travel per se; it is much more. Neither is it lack of policies but sheer inability to enforce rules.

ACCIDENTS

The main causes of the perennial road accidents are known — careless driving, mechanically faulty vehicles, overloading and the veritable corruption involving drivers, traffic police and NTSA staff.

Rules exist for PSVs operating at night. Among others, they are required to have two drivers, who exchange roles to guard against fatigue. The drivers must be properly trained while vehicles have to go for regular checks. However, these are hardly enforced.

The latest horrific crash that claimed at least 36 lives along the notorious Sachang’wan stretch was claimed to have been caused by reckless driving and a road-unworthy vehicle that was allowed to cruise past several police roadblocks, ostensibly after greasing hands.

LICENCE

A few days earlier, an accident was caused by a vehicle that essentially plies a Nairobi route but, at that time, was given a temporary licence under questionable circumstances to ferry passengers upcountry.

If the idea was to impose a ban, the first target should be long-distance lorries, which are involved in most of the tragic crashes. Years ago, they were outlawed from night movement. But that rule fizzled out somewhat.

The NTSA has shot itself in the foot. Together with other agencies, it must think outside the box and pursue practical solutions that can end bloodbath on the road. But it should not dig a pitch to fill a hole.