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The deadly black spots along Nakuru-Nairobi highway

Tuesday September 17 2019

The wreckage of a bus involved in an accident

The wreckage of a bus involved in an accident at Gilgil along the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway on September 30, 2018. FILE PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC MATARA
By ERIC MATARA
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MACHARIA MWANGI
By MACHARIA MWANGI
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Road crashes remain among the top ten killers in Kenya according to reports by various agencies including the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the World Health Organization- Global Road Safety Status Report.

Kenyan roads have been ranked amongst the most dangerous in the world, claiming an average of 29.1 lives per 100,000 people.

The latest NTSA statistics dated September 2, indicated that a record 2,326 people have lost their lives on Kenyan roads since the beginning of the year, compared to 2,021 who died by the same date in 2018.

NTSA data indicates that a total of 9,030 people have lost their lives on the Northern Corridor road network in Kenya alone in the last three years — 2016 (2,965), 2017 (2,919) and 2018 (3,146).

Pedestrians remain the most vulnerable group of road users with 904 losing their lives this year against last year’s figure of 1,201.

DEADLY HIGHWAY

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The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway is among the most accident prone roads in Kenya.

The busy highway is part of the Northern Corridor which is the important connection to Western Kenya and the artery that connects Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

The road is used for transporting most of the West-bound cargo from the Port of Mombasa and Nairobi.

Black spots dotting the highway include Karai, where 40 people perished in 2017, Kinungi, Mbaruk, Gilgil and St Mary’s area all along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.

Other black spots lie on the notorious accident prone Salgaa section that stretches from Sobea, Salgaa, Migaa, Sachangwan and Mau Summit as well as Jolly Farm and Mukinyai areas.

HORRORS OF SALGAA

The mention of Salgaa sends an involuntary chill down the spines of motorists and travelers journeying along the highway, owing to the harrowing reports of countless deaths and scores of victims maimed from the carnages along the stretch.

Dark patches of spilled motor oil, shards of broken glass and mangled remains of vehicle parts litter sections of the road – a grim reminder that the stretch bears grim memories for many families.

Majority of the recent accidents mostly happen at night.

The series of accidents along the stretch prompted the government to initiate construction of a dual carriage way, which is still underway, in a bid to end the carnage.

There are also plans to upgrade the entire Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit and make it a dual carriageway under a Public Private Partnership(PPP).

An oil tanker accident in 2009 killed nearly 200 people at Sachangwan area along the same highway.

List of the black spots along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway:

1.Kinungi–Karai–Naivasha–Gilgil Toll Station

40 people perished in a horrific accident at Karai area in 2017. Last week, on September 1, six people died on the section of the highway at Nyakairo trading centre, along the notorious Kinungi stretch in Naivasha in an accident involving a Nissan matatu and a lorry. Ten other passengers sustained serious injuries in the horrific crash and were taken to the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital. Accidents along this stretch have been blamed on speeding and careless driving.

2.Gilgil–St Marys–Mbaruk road section  

Pedestrians make up the majority of casualties at this spot, with cases being attributed to speeding and careless overtaking by motorists. Accidents in the section of the road have in the past claimed several lives.

3. Gilgil-Nakuru-Kasambara-Kikopey

 The accidents along this stretch have been attributed to speeding and careless overtaking.

4. Ngata bridge-Sobea

 Speeding, careless driving and overtaking by motorists have claimed several lives on this particular spot.

5.Sobea-Salgaa-Migaa-Sachangwan-Kibunja

Salgaa or ‘highway to hell’, a reputation earned from the scores of lives claimed by this highway, is still arguably the most feared black spot on Kenyan roads. The Sobea-Salgaa section is a straight stretch with no bend; presenting a temptation for most motorists to speed and overtake carelessly.

The stretch poses a great risk for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.  

Speeding and careless overtaking are predominantly the cause of the series of accidents in the area orchestrated mostly by trucks ferrying goods and public service vehicles.

The dual-carriage way construction initiated by the government, distinct lanes for motorists and replacement of vandalized road signs by KeNHA have since tamed Salgaa’s blood thirst.

6.Sachangwan-Mau Summit

 Freewheeling by trucks, speeding and careless overtaking characterise accidents reported at this spot.
7. Timboroa and Makutano junction - Burnt Forest section 

Speeding and careless overtaking top causes of accidents on this section of the highway.

All road users; motorists, cyclists and pedestrians using the Naivasha-Nakuru highway are advised to be wary of the blackspots and practice safe road use.