Traffic crackdown cripples New Year trips
Many travellers heading upcountry from Nairobi to celebrate the New Year were on Thursday stranded after private vehicles they were using were impounded in a crackdown by authorities.
Also affected were other travellers in funeral convoys who had to abandon their plans in the crackdown that targeted private vehicles that were operating as PSVs illegally.
National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) boss Francis Meja said the operation was launched after it emerged that private vehicles led in road fatalities unlike before when most accidents were caused by PSVs.
On Thursday, the NTSA officials pitched tent on the busy Naivasha Road, which is one of the main transport arteries for vehicles going to Rift Valley and western Kenya.
NO PSV LICENSES
Most of the vehicles – mainly the seven-seaters – were found ferrying passengers to different destinations like Kisumu, Eldoret, Kericho, Kisii, Kakamega and Nakuru while the drivers did not have PSV licenses.
“There is a new group of vehicles masquerading as PSV. They have no insurance cover for passengers,” Mr Meja told journalists and warned people against boarding such vehicles.
With the big demand for transport during this season, the drivers of the private vehicles were making several trips and getting fatigued in the process.
Mr Meja said they have been carrying out the crackdown for the interest of the travellers.
Drivers caught ferrying passengers in such vehicles, he said, risked being jailed for six months or pay a fine of Sh200,000.
The NTSA boss faulted people for boarding such vehicles while having the full knowledge that they were not licensed to carry passengers.
Some of the drivers had alerted their passengers on what to tell the police should they be stopped on the way.
LYING TO POLICE
The commuters would say that they were either friends or relatives travelling in the same vehicle to upcountry homes for New Year celebrations.
To beat this trick, the first thing the NTSA officials asked such drivers was whether they knew all the passengers in the car by their names.
And they would first ask the passengers to produce their Identity Cards. This is how most of the drivers were caught as they did not know the names of the commuters.
Others confessed that they had paid money to be ferried to their destinations.
“I boarded this vehicle at Afya Centre (in Nairobi) and paid Sh1,000 to be taken to Eldoret,” Mr Stanley Meidime told the NTSA officials and traffic police when the seven seater vehicle he was travelling in was ordered to stop.