Court deflates PSV case on night travel

January 14, 2014 1:12 pm
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The petition filed by four bus operators was dismissed by Justice Isaac Lenaola who said the government's legal notice was not a blanket restriction but a regulation/XINHUA FILE
The petition filed by four bus operators was dismissed by Justice Isaac Lenaola who said the government’s legal notice was not a blanket restriction but a regulation/XINHUA FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The High Court has dismissed a petition seeking to reverse the government’s order on night travel by Public Service Vehicles (PSV).

The petition filed by four bus operators was dismissed by Justice Isaac Lenaola who said the government’s legal notice was not a blanket restriction but a regulation.

Justice Lenaola explained: “The petitioners have failed to present ample evidence; have not tabled the contested licenses which they claimed allowed them to operate both day and night.”

Justice Lenaola said that his judgement was based on public interest as they had not complied with any of the regulations.

“All these applicants have not shown any license issued by any authority. A person applying for a license is required to state whether they require it for night or day.”

The PSV operators through their lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui filed the application last week describing the ban as an abuse of power by the Ministry of Transport.

The PSV operators further took issue with the timing and implementation of the ban arguing that they were not given sufficient time to get their papers in order.

The bus operators had wanted the directive contained in Legal Notice No. 219 of 2013 published last month nullified on grounds that it is illegal, arbitrary and draconian.

“I believe the Ministry of Transport has created this wrong impression that this Legal Notice affects only long distance buses and that is not the case. If you are an owner of a tour van which is classified under the traffic Act as a Public Service Vehicle this means you cannot as an individual be licensed as a tour van operator. If the ministry licenses you, it is doing so illegally,” Kinyanjui stated.

He explained that the new regulations require the bus companies to remove roof carriers that were permitted under the Traffic Rules and they will now be compelled to re-configure the vehicles and cede the business to courier companies.

“Even for long distance Public Service Vehicles, why remove the carrier. Rule 56 in the Traffic rules authorizes these carriers and it has not been repealed. So I do not see how the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) can come up with regulations that are contradictory with what is in existence. These carriers are necessary for long distance buses,” he said.

He further revealed that individual PSV owners are being driven out of business by being forced to join corporate entities.

“It (Kenya Country Buses Owners’ Association) does not believe that the proposals for the night ban of PSV travel as currently set out will be as beneficial as suggested and that this will very likely cause serious unintended repercussions in other sectors of the economy,” the association’s chairman Paul Muthumbi had complained.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Engineer Michael Kamau however maintained that the PSV operators’ move to court was unnecessary as there are mechanisms in place for night travel.

“Let us be clear. We have banned unlicensed night travel. Not night travel in totality. It is very simple, meet the set out requirements and you will be able to go about your business,” he said last week.

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