Road carnage in the New Year jumped to horrific levels as another 32 people were killed on Wednesday in different accidents.
That brought to 54 the number of fatalities recorded since December 31.
Twenty people died and seven were critically injured in Molo yesterday after a 14-seater matatu plunged into a gully. Another 12 people were killed in separate accidents in Meru, Murang’a, Ruiru, Eldoret and Makindu.
The spate of road deaths come barely 24 hours after another 11 matatu passengers were killed in a head-on collision with a bus when their driver tried to overtake a trailer at the notorious Salgaa black spot on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
Apart from the Salgaa accident, 11 other people were killed in different accidents on the New Year’s Eve.
Deputy Traffic commandant Samwel Kimaru said initial reports indicated that in the Molo accident, 10 people died on the spot while the rest died at the Molo District hospital while undergoing treatment.
Mr Kimaru said the 14-seater matatu had carried 22 passengers and it was not yet clear if all of them were adults or they included children.
“Unless we establish the age of the children who were in the vehicle, we may not say for sure that it was overloaded since there are young ones who can be carried by their parents,” Mr Kimaru said.
The Commandant said he had ordered a crackdown on motorists defying traffic rules throughout the country, saying that most of the accidents were caused by speeding and careless driving.
The 2pm horrific road crash happened on the Molo-Olenguruone road in Nakuru County at Quarry area. The place is hilly with sharp bends and deep gorges down the roadside.
Police said the 14-seater matatu, which was ferrying passengers from Olenguruone Town in Kuresoi District to Molo, lost control and veered off the road, plunging several metres down the gully.
Rift Valley police boss John Mbijiwe warned that stern action would be taken against traffic police officers manning roadblocks on the 43 kilometre Molo-Olenguruone stretch.
“If the vehicle passed the officers on the road and they did not stop it, action has to be taken against them,” Mr Mbijjiwe said, referring to claims that the vehicle was overloaded.
In a statement to the press at the accident scene, Mr Mbijjiwe said that 10 men, two women, and seven children were killed in the accident, bringing the total to 19 dead.
However, the Nation visited Molo District Hospital later, and found that an elderly woman had died in Ward 4, adding on to the total count. This was also confirmed by hospital administrators.
In another accident, a 12-year-old boy was killed by a hit-and-run vehicle on the Kandara-Gathaithi road in Murang’a.
In Kigumo a 16-year-old secondary school student died after he was knocked down by a truck at Kabati area on the Kandara-Kangari road.
In Ruiru, a man died after the vehicle he was travelling in hit a pillar after a tyre burst at Theta Bridge on the Nairobi-Thika road.
In Eldoret, a Kenya Power employee was killed in a road accident on a day she was to celebrate her birthday.
Reports by Eddy Ngeta, Zaddock Angira, Kennedy Kimanthi, John Kisu, Dennis Odunga and Eric Mutai