By Kimutai Ruto
3pm Sunday 11th 2014, 7 people are reported dead 3 others lose their lives on the way to hospital – a road accident in Salgaa has cut lives of ten people among them a 12 year old child. A couple others are maimed, lost their limbs or sustained injuries on their bodies that will forever etch the memory in their lives.
On that fateful day, a lorry transporting maize to Mombasa from Eldoret lost its breaks and rammed into 5 other cars killing 10 people. Another gloomy statistic has been written down in the 14KM stretch.
At the accident scene I meet Joseph Mwamburi the OCPD Rongai, though looking shocked he tries to keep his cool and control crowds milling around the accident scene.
“He must have been free-wheeling before he lost control of the lorry and knocked these other cars from behind.” Shocked Mwamburi tells me referring to the lorry that lost control and caused the accident.
Free-wheeling has been blamed for several accidents in the area mostly ones caused by trailers.
“Drivers of heavy loaded long range trailers do not engage gears as they go down-hill, the car loses its brakes because of the heavy weight and an accident is not far from the next event.” OCPD Mwamburi says.
Several months ago the National Transport and Safety Authority Chairman Lee Kinyanjui visited the black spot and told Kass Weekly that stringent measures will be meted on drivers found free-wheeling but such cases has not stopped.
During the visit, Kinyajui noted that road signs mounted on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway were vandalized by scrap metal dealers. Kinyajui had issued a warning to the scrap metal dealers that if caught they will be prosecuted.
Besides the warning signs have continued to disappear, something Moses Maina a driver who plies the routes says could be part of what causes the accidents.
“They should erect sign posts made of plastic to deter scrap metal dealers from stealing them. Some of these drivers are new users if this road and they require signs to help them figure out places like sharp corners.” Maina says.
The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway has been cited as one of the world’s most unsafe roads that is prone to accidents.
The survey by Hertfordshire-based Driving Experiences ranks the highway as fourth riskiest in the world.
In a report published a month ago, the study further ranks the highway as second riskiest in Africa after South Africa’s Settlers Freeway.
The survey that analyzed statistics from the World Health Organisation on road safety cites lack of barriers, poor conditions of vehicles, poor driving techniques and weather as major causes of road accidents on the busy highway.
The Ministry of Transport has proposed a raft of measures to help end the road carnage including requiring Public Service Vehicle (PSV) drivers to go for refresher courses on driving.
Transport authorities have also resorted to suspending the licences of those bus companies whose drivers are found to be responsible for fatal road accidents but this is yet to bear results.
Residents of Salgaa recommend that a diversion be constructed in the 14KM stretch for long range heavy loaded vehicles to be using to reduce accidents.
“A road should be built for lorries so that when a lorry losses control it does not go hitting small cars and that will cut the effects caused.” Kipchumba Rono a resident of Salgaa opines.
This year alone more than 20 people have lost their lives due road accidents in the 14KM stretch from Kibunja to Salgaa.