NTSA ban bites as hundreds stranded

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    By NATION TEAM
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    Travellers, who included students, were for the second day stranded following the ban on night travel by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

    This, as pressure mounted on the government to disband the authority after leaders accused it of incompetence and failure to rein in rogue road users, who have been blamed for the increased deaths.

    Travellers in western Kenya, North Rift, Nakuru, Mombasa and Central region towns also complained of increased costs as they were forced to spend more than they had planned in search for food and accommodation.

    Students were not spared as they had to scramble for the few vehicles available, most which had raised their fares almost to double the normal rates.

    This forced parents to dig deeper into their pockets while others opted to pay owners of private vehicles to take their children to school.

    Matatu owners in Nakuru Tuesday threatened to sue the NTSA for issuing the directive without consulting them, leading to heavy losses.

    Mr James Munene, the manager of North Rift Shuttle-Nakuru branch, said more than 500 passengers were stranded as they had already started their journeys from various points by the time NTSA issued the directive.

    A student seeking to travel upcountry

    A student seeking to travel upcountry was also among travellers at Easy Coach bus terminus on January 2, 2018. Most buses were booked and with the NTSA ban on night travel, travelling has been a nightmare for many travellers. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

    “Our passengers travelling from Malaba to Nairobi and other places that require a minimum of seven hours travel were forced to spend their night on the roads because the directive was issued after they had begun their journey,” said Mr Munene.

    In western Kenya, a spot check in most schools in Kisumu County revealed a low turnout due to the crisis and confusion on the opening dates.

    School head teachers attributed the low turnout to the transport crisis and confusion regarding the opening date.

    At Pandpieri Primary School Tuesday, head teacher Veronica Otieno said compared to other opening dates, the turn out was a bit low but she expressed confidence that all pupils would report by the end of the week.

    “We are receiving calls from parents asking if indeed the schools are opening today,” said Ms Otieno.

    Meanwhile, Kakamega Central education officer Jane Mutange said the ban on night travel had disrupted transport services making it difficult for students to report to school as planned.

    Passengers  at Transline terminus in Nairobi

    Passengers ponder their next move at Transline terminus in Nairobi on January 2, 2018. Available vehicles were fully booked creating a crisis. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

    “We are expecting reports from respective head teachers on the reopening of schools before the end of the day,” said Ms Mutange on Tuesday.

    Elsewhere, West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo took issue with the national government over the poor state of roads which he claimed contributed to the upsurge in crashes.

    “Apart from shortcomings by the NTSA, most of these roads need to be repaired and expanded to accommodate the increased number of vehicles,” said Prof Lonyangapuo.

    And to reduce accidents on notorious routes, the National Assembly Transport Committee chairman, Mr David Pkosing, proposed the diversion of heavy trucks off Nakuru-Eldoret and Kisumu highways as a temporary solution to the high number of road accidents.

    “What we need to do now is ensure that the heavy trucks use the Molo and Eldama Ravine diversions. That way we reduce the number of trucks using the dangerous spots on our highways,” he told Nation.

    Students who failed to secure means of transport to school feared missing their Continuous Assessment Tests that mark the beginning of the term.

    Drivers said that the government should invest in reconstructing the Salgaa-Migaa-Total stretch in order to reduce accidents.

    Business people who were caught up in the embargo feared that their goods would go bad as their stay on the roads was lengthened.

    Ms Mary Omondi, who was stranded with her sack of cabbages at Mololine stage in Nakuru, complained that she might incur losses as the cabbages had stayed in the sack for long.

    In Kisii, operators increased fares as some buses charged between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 for a single trip to Nairobi, up from the usual Sh900.

    Travellers in Kakamega were stranded at bus termini for several hours due lack of transport to their destinations and fare increase.

    Some travellers had slept at the bus stage hoping to catch the early morning buses to Nairobi but could not raise the Sh2,500 fare for the trip.

    In Migori County, few students and teachers reported to school.

    Travellers in Mombasa continued to suffer due to the impact of night travel ban as buses remained fully booked until next week.

    An official at Modern Coast said all buses left in the morning and added that their vehicles had been booked until January 11.

    At Mwembe Tayari bus stage, many passengers especially students were stranded due to lack of transport.

     Reports by Victor Otieno, Collins Omulo, Benson Amadala, Magati Obebo, Elisha Otieno, Vivere Nandiemo, Geoffrey Rono, Barnabas Bii, Oscar Kakai and Gerald Bwisa, Eunice Murathe, Grace Gitau and Winnie Atieno. 

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