The ward rep who saves lives on deadly highway
At 43, Rachel Maru wears two hats.
For starters, she is a nominated ward rep. But that is just the political side of her.
There is the second job that she does with more devotion and at no pay, one that got her picked for the county assembly post — campaigning against road carnage.
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For years, Maru has tirelessly campaigned to reduce the number of road accidents at a black spot on the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway.
Maru, a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross, says her devotion was borne out of witnessing a number of accidents on the road stretch that passes near her home.
The stretch between Sombea, Salgaa, Sachangwan and Total trading centre has witnessed some of the country’s worst accidents that have killed dozens of people and left survivors maimed for life.
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As Kenya joins the rest of the world to mark the World Road Safety Week that runs between May 8 to 14 , Maru says a lot still needs to be done to make our roads safe.
She recalls a recent incident where a man was pushed from a moving bus. She was preparing to attend a session at the county assembly, but abandoned the idea as soon as she received the report.
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Armed with a first aid kit she rushed to the scene to find the man lying in a ditch. She was all alone. After trying her best to stabilise the man, Maru called the police.
But officers from the nearest police post at Salgaa did not arrive on time, and the man died in her arms.
Before the officers took the body, Maru requested to search the man’s pockets for any clue as to his next of kin. He had no identification document, but Maru found Sh29,950 in his pockets.
Maru immediately knew she had to charge. So she took the money and safely put it away, then accompanied the police to the Nakuru county mortuary where she left instructions with the attendants to inform anyone who turned up to identify the body to contact her.
The man’s family contacted her after some days and she handed over the money to them.
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Maru says she cannot recall the number of accidents she has responded to along this stretch of the highway.
Her phone, she says, never stops ringing, so much so that she calls it her ‘hotline’.
“Whenever I am at whatever time I will respond to that call. I consider my phone number a hotline,” said Maru, a single mother of one.
“I cannot count the number but I know that I have saved several lives on this stretch of the road,” she said.
For her dedication she was nominated to the county assembly, where she is a staunch defender of accident survivors and victims’ families.
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“I encourage survivors at the scene, my joy is in seeing people smile despite the pain they are in. That is enough payment for me,” she said.
Her training with the Kenya Red Cross gives her confidence to do her job. So does the overwhelming support she receives from boda boda operators, who are often the first responders at accident scenes on the highway.
Boda boda operators, she says, have been of great help in her mission. Some wake up late in the night to ferry her to accident scenes ensuring that she is safe.
Her neighbour, Joseph Wachira, describes her as a brave woman.
“She will wake me up late in the night. What she does cannot be done by any other person,” he says.
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Kenya Red CrossNakuru Eldoret HighwayWorld Road Safety Week