The National Transport and Licensing Authority (NTSA) has suffered yet another blow after the High Court declared its directive to close 300 driving schools illegal and unlawful.
Last year, the National Transport and Licensing Authority (NTSA) had ordered the immediate closure of more than 300 private driving schools for failure to meet set traffic rules.
Justice James Makau said the closure of the 332 driving schools for failing to submit duly filled forms to the nearest (NTSA) offices within 14 days, was oppressive and unlawful.
The agency had issued a notice requiring operators of driving schools to download the Driving School Revalidation Forum from its website and submit it in two weeks or risk revocation of its licences.
“This was wrong as the decision was arrived at without conducting a physical examination of the premises to ascertain that the schools did not qualify to be licensed,” the judge said.
Justice Makau added that it was also unreasonable for NTSA to assume that those who downloaded and submitted the forms were compliant to the law.
The agency had then demanded that each driving school should own not less than 1.7 acres of land upon which it must develop facilities and have the infrastructure of a model highway, a well-equipped classroom with computers as well as projectors and a management structure.
But activist Okiya Omtatah challenged the closure arguing that the rules were made without effective public participation, a move that is tantamount to harassing driving schools.
Justice Makau agreed that the decision was reached in breach of the rules of natural justice because the driving schools were not given reasonable and full opportunity to make presentations concerning the move.
“I find that on examination of the Driving Schools Revalidation Form, it is not possible to know how its contents could have been generated using Rule 14, and 15 of the Traffic (Driving Schools) Rules, 1971,” he said.
The judge said the law does not donate any powers to NTSA to revalidate and close down schools contrary to the law.
NTSA defended the move saying the vetting exercise was to ensure compliance with the requirements and conditions of licensing as stipulated in the Traffic (Driving Schools) Rules.
Other than a school licence, the institutions were required to have a training facility, instructors who have been trained, tested and were licensed to train learners on specified driving categories, vehicles are fit for driving classes and also the driving school be tax compliant.
The judge said where the rules require a mandatory physical examination of the premises and facilities, NTSA opted for online where operators were required to self-assess.
“I find that the Parliament in its wisdom never intended that the regulation facilitates the regulation to self-assess online,” the judge said.