alexa Worry as Nairobi-Nakuru highway 'still a death trap' - Daily Nation

Worry as Nairobi-Nakuru highway 'still a death trap'

Thursday September 12 2019

Salgaa dual carriage

Roadwork at the Salgaa blackspot along Nakuru-Eldoret Highway on December 12, 2018. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ERIC MATARA
By ERIC MATARA
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The road safety authority and the traffic police department are once again under public scrutiny following a rise in the number of road accidents on Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

The highway is important as it connect Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

The increase in the number of crashes has caused uproar, with Kenyans raising concerns about the absence of traffic rules enforcement officers, and questioning the mandate of the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

At least 10 people were killed and scores injured on the road between September 1 and 9.

Shockingly, police linked all the accidents to drivers, saying they resulted from cases of recklessness, speeding and overtaking.

IG'S ORDER

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This comes days after Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai ordered removal of checkpoints and roadblocks on major highways in the country.

He also instructed traffic police officers not set up checkpoints and erect road blocks without the permission of regional and formation commanders, and noted that this can only be with sufficient justification.

Mr Mutyambai noted that he had not banned road blocks but that he was simply streamlining traffic management to ensure regional bosses are directly responsible for their areas.

The measures followed numerous complaints by the public about traffic officers who used roadblocks to extort money from motorists.

Salgaa accident

The wreckage of the Western Sacco matatu that was involved in an accident at Salgaa on Nakuru-Eldoret highway, leaving two students dead, February 18, 2019. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

REACTIONS

Residents who have witnessed accidents on the highway say one solution would be to construct a dual carriageway.

They also note the need to station enough traffic officers at crucial points.

“For the past few days we have not had enough traffic officers on part of the busy highway so drivers have speeded and been careless. The officers would contain this,” said Kinungi resident Charles Waweru.

Reached for a comment. however, Nakuru County Police Commander Stephen Matu said there were enough police checkpoints - at places including Naivasha, Gilgil, Nakuru and Salgaa.

“We have enough traffic roadblocks where they are required. I only urge motorists to exercise caution while using the busy highway. Avoid careless driving to stop the carnage," he said.

"We all have a responsibility to stop accidents. Drivers must stop this madness of overtaking and speeding.”

"DEATH TRAP"

In the most recent accident on September 9, three people died while more than 10 people were seriously wounded when a matatu collided with a mini bus at Marula area.

Naivasha Sub-County Police Commander Samuel Waweru said two passengers died at the scene and another at Naivasha Sub-county Hospital.

"The driver of the matatu headed towards Nairobi had been trying to overtake a fleet of vehicles when the accident occurred," said Mr Waweru.

Some residents told the Nation that there are fewer checkpoints so drivers blatantly disregard traffic rules even at blackspots.

Dennis Kamau, who witnessed the accident, blamed the matatu driver.

“The accident would have been avoided if the driver had observed traffic rules. He rammed into the minibus while overtaking. The lack of enough traffic checkpoints is contributing to the increase in fatal accidents," he said.

He added: “The highway is narrow, and that makes it dangerous to overtake. This is a death trap. Where are the NTSA and traffic police?"

Salgaa dual carriage

Roadwork at the Salgaa blackspot along Nakuru-Eldoret Highway on December 12, 2018. PHOTO | AYUB MUIYURO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ANOTHER CRASH

On September 1, six people died while 10 were injured at Nyakairo trading centre along the notorious Kinungi stretch in Naivasha  in an accident involving a matatu and a lorry.

Witness Peter Kariuki said the incident occurred as the matatu driver attempted to overtake a convoy of vehicles.

"He swerved to the right and crashed into a lorry coming from the opposite direction," he

Naivasha Sub-County Deputy Police Commander John Kwasa blamed the matatu driver for the night crash, saying he did not adhere to traffic rules while overtaking.

These are not isolated cases. Since the year began, at least six motorcycle operators have been killed by speeding motorists.

In an interview with the Nation, Gilgil member of Parliament Martha Wangari said, “I urge motorists and other road users to exercise caution while using the highway as it has several known blackspots. Drivers should avoid overtaking and speeding."

The MP also asked the Kenya Highways Authority (KeNHA) to erect speed bumps to help reduce the number of crashes.

The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway, which is part of the Northern Corridor, is used for transporting most of the Western-bound cargo from the port of Mombasa and Nairobi.

Black spots along the highway include Karai, where 40 people perished in 2017, Kinungi, Mbaruk, Gilgil, St Mary's, Sobea, Salgaa, Migaa, Sachangwan, Mau Summit, Jolly Farm and Mukinyai.

Many people have died in Salgaa, a majority of cases having been recorded during the end-year holidays.

Dark patches of spilled oil, broken glasses, pieces of rubber and mangled remains of vehicles are often pictured on that section of the highway, a grim reminder that many have lost their lives in grisly accidents.

The government is currently constructing a dual carriageway to help end the carnage.