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January 19, 2019

Night travel ban: Students stranded in Mombasa days after schools reopen

Students stranded at a bus station in Mombasa, January 3, 2018. /Ernest Cornel
Students stranded at a bus station in Mombasa, January 3, 2018. /Ernest Cornel

Students travelling to the countryside for their first term studies remained stranded at various bus stations in Mombasa on Wednesday.

This was because of the NTSA's apparent knee-jerk ban of night bus travel following a spate of road crashes that claimed over 330 lives in December alone.

More on this: NTSA bans PSV night travel after Salgaa crash

It emerged today that several students had missed their travelling schedules three times, since the confusion started on December 31 when the ban was announced and effected.

These students consequently missed the January 2 to 4 school opening dates.

Alice Achieng from Kisumu Girls' said that after she failed to travel on new year's eve, there was a scramble for bus space. She said funds were refunded and travellers asked to book afresh.

Owing to the limited travel time and overwhelming number of commuters, Achieng said there was chaos and that she couldn't reserve a seat.

Philip Otenyo, a student of Kakamega High School, said he slept in the bus twice.

"After the ban, we spent a night anticipating departure the following morning (Tuesday), but there was a lot of confusion so I missed the bus."

"I was told to wait until the next day (Wednesday) so I slept in the bus again that night."

Otenyo was yet to leave for Kakamega on Wednesday.

NTSA director general Francis Meja said travel will be restricted to between 6am and 7pm to reduce night crashes.

"Over the recent past, our records indicate that majority of crashes are occurring during the night," he said in a joint statement with the traffic police department.

"In order to review the effectiveness of measures in place to improve road safety, the authority, in consultation with other relevant government agencies, suspends night travel for all distance public service vehicles from December 31."

Another student, Ian Njoroge from Kapsabet Boys', said he had postponed his travel to next week when the rush will have eased.

"The fare is more than double. I would rather wait and save money for my upkeep."

These students represented the agony hundreds of travellers are undergoing.

The Matatu Owners Association has criticised the ban saying it is counterproductive. MOA said only unapproved city operators should be affected, not companies that were vetted and that complied with traffic rules.

Related: [VIDEO] Passengers stranded as fares soar after night travel ban

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