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Hundreds of motorists, passengers stranded

Hundreds of motorist and passengers plying the Garissa – Nairobi highway were Wednesday stranded for over eight hours when three sections of the roads were flooded following the El-Nino rains pounding Tana River county and North Eastern region.

The busy highway links North Eastern region and the rest of the country with over 40 buses plying the route on a daily basis. Hundreds of trucks and other vehicles transporting goods to the region also use the route.

A stranded motorist crossing the road on foot as stranded passengers stand on the damaged road at Arer and Tulla section of the Garissa – Nairobi highway. Hundreds of motorist and passengers plying the route were today stranded for over eight hours when three sections of the roads were flooded following the El-Nino rains pounding Tana River county and North Eastern region.

The most affected were passengers leaving Garissa for Nairobi who departed as early as 5am only to be stranded at Faraborow about 30 kms from Garissa.

Although the buses managed to wade through the section, their journey was cut short after Arer section that is about 5 kms away was badly damaged. It’s here that they had to wait for buses from Nairobi so that they could exchange their passengers.

Nairobi bound buses offloaded their passengers who waded through the flooded road to embark on the bus from Garissa side so that they could complete their journey. It was the same for passengers from Garissa.

At Tula section about 40 kms from Garissa town, transport had to be suspended for over 6 hours to allow water that had flooded the road to subside.

Also, affected were trucks bringing in groceries and other perishables to Garissa town and beyond that normally arrive as early as 4 am in Garissa.

Traffic officers from Garissa police station had to be called in to control the huge motor vehicle queue that had stuck on both sides of the road to prevent them jamming the highway.

Stranded motorists at Arer area who talked to the press asked the Kenya national Highway Authority (KeNHA) to find temporary solution to the road before further damage by the ongoing rains.

Eliud Mbugua, a grocery store owner in Garissa town told KNA on phone that he was worried that bread, milk and groceries could go bad leading to huge losses.

“I have been waiting for bread since 6 am in the morning and I am told the truck is stranded at Tulla area. My fear is that other perishable items may go bad,” Mbugua said.

“There is urgent need for the Garissa – Nairobi highway to be redesigned to withstand future floods otherwise we are staring at a disaster in waiting. This road is the gateway to North Eastern region and all goods and service uses the same route,” he added.

Bus companies plying the Garissa – Wajir and Garissa – Mandera route suspended their service three weeks ago after the Modigar – Modogashe road was cut off following flooding along the road.

So far 16 people have lost their lives in North Eastern region after they drowned in floods.

By Jacob Songok

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