Pedestrians and cyclists have not been spared from nursing broken limbs in the spat of accidents caused by speeding Proboxes ferrying muguka The transporters argue that they have to transport the produce at high speeds to retain its succulence

The killer Proboxes from Meru. You know them, those white racing coffins transporting miraa and muguka to Nairobi at daredevil speeds.

They are seemingly immune to traffic rules as they overtake in a dangerous rush to the market.

The residents of the smoothly tarmacked stretch between Muraru market to Embu town and Makutano Junction know only too well the pains of traffic accidents despite these cars passing through four traffic police checkpoints along that stretch where they don’t switch off headlights or lower speed.

The transporters argue that muguka which is sourced from farms in Mbeere, Embu County, has to be transported at the speed of light to retain their succulence.

While muguka farmers count their profits, many families count loss of loved ones through road carnage.

Pedestrians and cyclists have not been spared from nursing broken limbs or debilitating injuries either.

In February last year, Edward Kinyua, a 25 year old nurse, became a victim. He was riding his motorcycle to Ngurubani market when a muguka transporting Probox hit him from the rear at the Red Soil section of the busy Mwea-Makutano highway.

Kinyua, unmarried and at the cusp of a private practice, died on the spot. Residents took to the highway, barricading the road, but the offending Probox fled.

The irate residents commandeered another Probox, turned it upside down and set it ablaze. The car’s two occupants were lucky to escape alive.

Just a month earlier, Patrick Muchiri Gachoki was planning to wed in three months but became a statistic instead via another speeding Probox.

Gachoki was crossing the busy road Embu-Samson corner market at Difathas market while riding a bicycle when a speeding Probox killed his dreams.

“Instead of celebrating the wedding, we held my son’s burial ceremony and left his fiancée whom he had already introduced to the family crying,” recalled his mother, Jenifer Karioko.

But is the crashing to death of a retired teacher Francis Wanyoike, 66 and his wife Jane Wangui, 61, that shook the County.

The couple were on a motorcycle to their shamba and about to turn off from the highway to a feeder road when the accident occurred at the Murubara section of the same road on April 29, 2014.

Residents torched the offending Probox and the cargo as its driver and passenger fled.

“Although my parents were over 60 years, they would still be living to date had it not been for the carelessness of the driver who crashed them to death while speeding the khat to Nairobi,” said their first born Eunice Wanyoike in an earlier interview.

Eunice added that after many mentions and adjournments of the traffic case, the driver was jailed for one year for causing death to her parents or Sh100,000 fine.

Disturbed by the spate of accidents, residents have tried to erect illegal speed bumps near schools and markets.

At Nice Digital City, the proprietor Charles Njiru had to   erect speed bumps after boda boda operators stationed there became victims of countless hit and run accidents.

Kenya National Highways Authority has over the years erected more speed bumps and rumble strips near markets along the busy road with the latest at Difathas near River Nyamindi Bridge.

To residents, the Proboxes are worse than the miraa Pick-ups   that were driven like bats out of hell from Meru to Nairobi earning the dubious tag of being Kenya’s most dangerously driven vehicles.

Embu County Police Commander Nelson Okioga defended police against accusations of laxity, saying they conduct continuous crackdowns on those flouting the traffic laws and charge them appropriately.

“We have impounded many and had the drivers charged in court. Our effort has reduced their recklessness. However, we must appreciate that we are dealing with very cunning and don’t care drivers. Arresting them only is not enough. We also try to reach out to the driver and the car owners to change attitude and obey traffic laws for the safety of all road users,” he says. 

Asked why they speed past police check points with headlights on, he said police always record registration numbers and arrest them later instead of chasing them which would be more dangerous.

Miraa trader James Muriithi from Gikiiro area defended the Probox transporters saying “the muguka carrying Probox   have been unfairly demonized. Some have been torched even when they had not caused accident”.

He added that some of the Proboxes are on loans and torching them occasions financial doom for them.