A court in Nakuru on Friday released 13 drivers of passenger vehicles who were arrested along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway for violating the night travel ban.
Resident Magistrate Nancy Makau in her ruling discharged the suspects on grounds that the charges they faced were not supported by the law.
According to the charge sheet the 13 were charged with operating PSV vehicles at night without a valid license contrary to the regulations of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).
“Looking at the provisions of NTSA act the charges as brought to court do not create an offence and as such the charge sheet is thus not admitted under section 89 of the criminal procedure code,” ruled magistrate Makau.
The suspects were accused of driving the said vehicles along the route on Thursday night while carrying fare paying passengers without valid license by the NTSA.
Dismissing, the charges the magistrate observed that there were no provisions in the law that required NTSA to issue special license to drivers in order for them to be allowed to travel at night.
Passengers who were being ferried were left stranded when the police impounded the vehicles for travelling past the travel ban law deadline.
They had to spend their night in the vehicles they were travelling in after they were detained at Mwariki Police Post in Nakuru.
Confirming the incident, Nakuru Officer Commanding Police Division Mr Samuel Obara said the vehicles, which included buses and shuttles, were travelling past the 7pm travel deadline along the route.
“Our officers arrested the drivers of the 13 vehicles who had contravened the night travel ban law for passenger service vehicles plying along the highway past 7 pm. The vehicles were also taken to Mwarki Police post pending clearance with police,” said Mr Obara.
The passengers expressed their frustration of having to spend the cold night inside the bus at the police station.
Mr Justine Mwangi a business man who was traveling to Eldoret using the Greenline bus said they left Nairobi at around 4 pm and were hopping to spend the night at a stopover in Nakuru before the vehicle was impounded few kilometers to Nakuru town.
He claims the bus was impounded at 8 pm and held by the roadside before being taken to the police station more than three hours later.
“We are wondering why the bus had to be stopped at this point when were almost approaching the stopover. Did they want us to stop at the forest,” said Mr Mwangi
Another passenger, Mr Elijah Ngige, accused the police of punishing them for the mistakes they had not committed.
According to him the police ought to have dealt with the bus company and allow them to continue with their journey.
“We boarded the bus knowing that that by the 7pm we would have arrived in Nakuru town, unfortunately we experienced a jam while leaving Nairobi so the police should be understanding enough to give the allowance of time,” said Mr Ngige
The passengers further appealed to the government to extend the deadline to around 11 pm to allow drivers time to get to the next stop over.
The OCPD however defended the police of acting inhumanly saying that the vehicles impounded had no co-drivers to ferry the passengers to their destination.
According to him the drivers could have handed over to their assistant as they remain behind to answer the charges.
“It was not the wishes of the police to detain the vehicles with the passengers, it is only that the bus company did not have proper arrangements to have them transported,” said Mr Obara
This was the second time the vehicles were being detained at the police post. The OCPD said seven others were impounded on Wednesday evening and the drivers were arraigned in court on Thursday