Londiani crash: Accident that shocked the country

The wreckage of a track that was involved in a tragic accident at Londiani Junction on July 1, 2023. Over 51 people lost their lives. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

In a horrific incident on June 30, a lorry carrying cement collided with multiple vehicles at the Londiani road junction, resulting in the tragic deaths of 53 individuals, including roadside traders and their customers.

Among the survivors was Mary Chepkoech Maritim, a 48-year-old matron at Kirobon Girls Secondary School in Nakuru county.

Recalling the apocalyptic scene, Maritim, who was en route from Kericho to Nakuru, described the accident unfolding in an instant, leaving her bewildered and traumatized.

“The accident happened within a twinkle of an eye. I just heard a loud bang, tyres screeching, and people screaming," she said from her hospital bed at Kericho County Hospital.

Despite the chaos, Maritim managed to escape with soft tissue injuries, breaking the vehicle's window and manoeuvring over lifeless bodies to exit the crash site.

"I thank God that I emerged alive in a situation where many people died,” she said.

The ill-fated Nanaki Sacco vehicle had halted at the Londiani junction, seeking alternative transportation for passengers before tragedy struck.

“The accident happened before the conductor could get us an alternative vehicle,” said Maritim.

Among the victims was Joan Chepchirchir, a 38-year-old roadside maize roaster and hawker. Her cousin, Caroline Cherutich, lamented.

"She wanted to use the school half-term break to raise some money for children’s school needs but ended up dying in the crash."

The driver of the cement-laden truck, Gilbert Mutuye Mungu, a Rwandese, cited brake failure as the cause of the accident.

“I departed from Simba Cement Factory in Salgaa heading towards Uganda through Busia and lost control of my truck due to brake failure. I was with my co-driver, and I don’t know whether he has been admitted,” he said.

"Upon arriving at the junction heading towards Malaba, I lost control of the vehicle because the brakes could not function, and I panicked,” Mutuye added.

Mutuye, who faced 90 charges, including dangerous driving leading to loss of lives, appeared before the Molo Law court on July 20th.

Speaking during a prayer service for the victims of the Londiani accident held on July 4th, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen directed that all Public Service Vehicles (PSV) and school buses be fitted with dashboard cameras to help curb road accidents.

Red Cross officials and friends comfort a bereaved resident at Londiani sub-county hospital who lost a relative in the Londiani Tragic road accident on July 1, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Murkomen stated that cameras and vehicle telematics systems would be seamlessly integrated with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) database.

He stated that the implementation of dashboard cameras and vehicle telematics in PSVs marked a significant step towards enhancing safety, accountability, and efficiency within the public transportation sector.

“By leveraging advanced technology, this initiative aims to address various challenges and improve overall service quality,” he said.

“Dashboard cameras, also known as vehicle black boxes or event data recorders, will be installed in PSVs to capture real-time video footage of the road and the interior of the vehicles. These cameras will provide crucial visual evidence in case of accidents, disputes, or any other incidents that may occur during a journey. By documenting these incidents, the dashboard cameras will aid in determining liability and promoting fair and accurate resolution.”

Furthermore, he said the integration of vehicle telematics systems with the NTSA database would enable real-time monitoring and analysis of PSV operations.

“Telematics technology combines telecommunications and informatics, allowing for the exchange of data between vehicles and remote systems. This integration will facilitate the collection of various metrics, including vehicle speed, location, fuel consumption, and driver behaviour,” he said.
He observed that NTSA will have access to valuable insights that can be utilized for various purposes.

“For instance, analyzing vehicle speed data can help identify instances of speeding and reckless driving, enabling the authorities to take appropriate action to ensure road safety. Additionally, monitoring fuel consumption and driver behaviour can contribute to the development of eco-friendly driving habits, reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability,” he explained.

He also stated that interlinking the dashboard cameras and vehicle telematics systems with the NTSA database will create a comprehensive ecosystem for data collection, analysis, and reporting.

He added that this approach will enable efficient and accurate enforcement of traffic laws and facilitate targeted interventions to address safety concerns within the PSV sector.

“Moreover, the availability of real-time data through this interconnected system will allow for prompt response to emergencies, such as accidents or breakdowns,” he said. “Authorities can receive immediate alerts and deploy appropriate resources to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and drivers alike.”

Family members holding portrait photos of their loved ones during the memorial service for the Londiani Junction accident victims in Kericho County on July 4, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Families and survivors impacted by the Londiani road crash later received the entire amount of Sh14.5 million collected by well-wishers on July 4.

The Londiani Disaster Committee, chaired by Kericho County Secretary Dr Wesley Bor, shared that in the second phase of their program, they provided an additional Sh110,000 in addition to the Sh90,000 already given to each of the 53 families on July 4th.

It added up to a total of Sh200,000 for each bereaved family.

For the 24 survivors of the accident, who had initially received Sh60,000 each, an extra Sh80,000 was distributed in the second phase, making their total compensation Sh140,000 each. Dr Bor noted that the committee also compensated three boda-boda motorcycle owners with Sh185,000 each for damages incurred in the accident.

"We want to assure the entire nation that we have fully compensated those affected by the Londiani road accident," stated Bor.

He disclosed that a sum of Sh13,653,660 was increased during the July 4th fundraiser, with an additional Sh935,964 collected through the M-Pesa pay bill, totaling Sh14,589,623.

The only deduction from the collected funds was Sh24,000 paid to a local security firm for transportation during the banking process.

In addition to the funds raised from the fundraiser, the national government offered Sh300,000 to each family that lost a loved one in the Londiani accident.

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