The Motorists Association of Kenya (MAK) wants the Nairobi-Nakuru highway upgraded to a dual carriageway to reduce the road carnage witnessed in recent times due to high traffic flow.
The association’s national team leader Mr. Peter Murima expressed concern over the increase in the number of accidents along the busy highway suggesting that a dual carriage way could ease the congested flow of traffic attributed to the road carnage.
In January this year, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen while speaking in Nakuru said that the government plans to upgrade notorious black spot stretches on the Nairobi- Nakuru-Eldoret highway to help reduce accidents that mainly involve lorries and public service vehicles by marking and erecting of cat-eye reflectors to enhance visibility and also erect road signs among other undertakings.
Stakeholders have welcomed this move as the highway between Naivasha and Nakuru has also been prone to serious traffic jams especially during major holidays when many Kenyans are travelling, and the situation is usually dire at Gilgil toll station where motorists have on several occasions spent nights or long hours on the stretch between Naivasha and the toll station due to traffic gridlock.
The process of making the Nairobi-Nakuru highway to be a dual carriageway all the way to Mau Summit, which has now been revisited by MAK was devised during the Uhuru Kenyatta administration in 2019.
In July 2022, African Development Bank committed to pumping Sh18 billion into the project whose total costs were estimated to be Sh160 billion.
It was to be done under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with a consortium of contractors undertaking it to recover the costs in 30 years from its users at designated toll.
The toll fee to be charged from the road users was seen to be too high and the Kenya Kwanza government decided that it would source for funds for the project where the toll fee will not be in the picture.
Speaking to the media in Naivasha, Mr. Murima attributed the rising cases of grisly accidents at various black spots on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway to the design of the road and careless driving, saying warning signs and repair and installation of guardrails and standard speed bumps and rubble strips should be erected on the highway as a matter of urgency to slow down motorists.
He noted that unplanned speed bumps along the highway are not clearly marked have also contributed to the fatal accidents that have led to loss of lives on the highway in the recent past.
Murima noted that driver error has caused most of these accidents through careless and drunk driving and fatigue among drivers who are forced to drive long distances without sufficient rest.
He singled out motor-cycle operators popularly known as boda-boda as the most notorious for disregarding traffic rules, followed by matatus thus largely contributing to the accidents in the country.
Subsequently, the association has announced a major road safety campaign along the highway targeting learning institutions and motorists.
“Our association is going to teach drivers safe driving skills, because we realize the motorists are not taught or sensitized about this in the driving school,” Murima said, adding that this campaign is going to involve a multi-sectoral approach involving all stakeholders.
He said in their research, they had found out that driver education was lacking in the driving syllabus in the country.
Murima said that their investigations also revealed that the road design, poor maintenance of vehicles and careless drivers had contributed to the accidents and identified Karai, Kinungi, Kayole, Morendat and Marula areas in Naivasha as some of the black spots on the highway.
He added that from next week, the association with other stakeholders would embark on road safety campaigns targeting motorists and school-going children.
Murima said under this programme, they shall provide the students with reflective jackets and bungles which will come in handy while walking to school early in the morning.
Nakuru region MAK coordinator Stella Nduta Ng’ang’a said that they had already visited several churches and schools in Naivasha to sensitize the community on road safety as part of their road safety campaign.
She recounted a case where two students were hit and seriously injured while walking to school early in the morning along the Moi South Lake road last week.
“We shall be working closely with traffic police, learning institutions and motorists in making sure that our roads are safe,” she said.
On Thursday last week, 18 people among the students from Pwani University died while scores of others were hospitalized with serious injuries after their bus was involved in an accident at Kayole area along the Naivasha-Nakuru highway.
The tragic accident comes barely two weeks after four people died on the spot while 15 others were seriously injured in a multiple accident involving five vehicles at the Kikopey area along the Gilgil-Nakuru highway.
According to the latest statistics from National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) released on March 23 this year, 974 deaths have been reported on our roads since the year began.
By Mabel Keya-Shikuku