Unmarked highway claiming lives; take action now, Murkomen

A North Ways Shuttle matatu was involved in a tragic accident after it collided head-on with Classic Kings Bus at Twin Bridge along the Nakuru - Eldoret highway on January 9, 2024. 15 people died and several others were injured. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The Nakuru-Eldoret highway is a vital lifeline connecting regions, fostering trade, and facilitating the movement of people. The recent efforts to upgrade the road, including the recarpeting around Timboroa, were welcomed with optimism. However, the failure to mark the newly laid road has turned this hopeful endeavour into a deadly gamble.

Climbing lanes, designed to ease the ascent of vehicles on steep gradients, have become treacherous zones due to the lack of visible markings. The beginning and end of these lanes, crucial for ensuring safe transitions between fast and slow-moving traffic, are now shrouded in obscurity. The consequences have been dire, with fatal accidents occurring as a direct result of the negligence to mark and signpost this critical part of the highway.

The responsibility for road safety falls squarely on the shoulders of Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA). Lives lost on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway are as a result of of a failure to implement essential safety measures. The lack of visible road signs and markings is a gaping hole in the nation's commitment to ensuring the well-being of its citizens.

Kipchumba Murkomen, your position as CS for Transport places you at the nexus of addressing this urgent concern. The recent tragedies on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway demand immediate attention, and we appeal to your office to spearhead corrective measures to prevent further loss of lives. It is not merely a matter of infrastructure but a question of safeguarding the very lives that depend on the safety of our roads.

The absence of visible road markings is an open invitation to chaos and calamity. As vehicles navigate the twists and turns of the Nakuru-Eldoret highway, the unmarked climbing lanes pose an imminent threat. The risk of collisions, especially during overtaking manoeuvres, is significantly heightened when drivers are unable to discern the boundaries of these lanes. Lives are hanging in the balance, and the clock is ticking.

The tragedy in Block 3, where an accident claimed five lives, serves as a stark reminder of the urgency of this matter. The grief-stricken families left in the wake of these accidents are not statistics but human beings whose lives were irrevocably altered due to the lapses in road safety protocols. It is time to acknowledge the severity of the situation and take decisive action.

The solution is simple. The Nakuru-Eldoret highway, especially around Timboroa, must be promptly marked with clear and visible road signs. The climbing lanes need to be demarcated to guide motorists safely through these crucial segments. This is not an optional enhancement but a fundamental necessity to prevent further loss of lives.

The question that echoes through the corridors of responsibility is whether the lives lost on our highways are deemed acceptable collateral damage or if they are catalysts for change. The recent recarpeting efforts were undoubtedly aimed at enhancing the overall quality of the road. However, neglecting to mark and signpost the road renders the entire endeavour incomplete and perilous. Mr Murkomen, we implore you to use your and authority to hold KENHA accountable for this lapse.

Ms Mutai is a media and communication consultant