The Nakuru-Eldoret highway barrier that has cut accidents

The 'China Wall' that has been constructed along the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway between Salgaa and Kibunja trading centers in a bid to reduce road carnage in the area. Residents along the stretch have called on the government to come up with safe crossing points. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

The 21km stretch from Salgaa trading centre to Sachang'wan, on the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway, has for decades been the worst accident blackspot in the country.

Hundreds of lives have been lost and many left maimed on this stretch of road that had become synonymous with gruesome motor accidents.

But not anymore

A concrete barrier erected by the government in 2018 at a cost of Sh500 million, separating lanes of traffic, has seen a drastic decline in motor accidents along that stretch.

Done magic

China Railway Number 10 Engineering Group that was contracted to do the work, has completed 20km of the 40km barrier.

And as motorists, passengers and government officials testify, the concrete wall has done some magic.

Statistics obtained from the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Traffic Police confirms that indeed the investment is paying off.

Traffic police records indicate that in 2017, total accidents reported along Salgaa Total area were 50 with total victims being 284. Out of this number, 138 people died.

The numbers reduced in 2018 to 23 accidents, 22 deaths, while this year, from January to October, there have been 19 accidents and 16 deaths.

NTSA Director General Francis Meja said a study conducted on accidents that occurred at Sobea, Salgaa, Sachang'wan and Total, revealed that major contributors to the accidents were heavy traffic and reckless driving.

“NTSA recommended erection of the grid following numerous accidents that maimed and killed scores of people. Currently, we do not have vehicles going in opposite directions meeting,” Meja said. 

Traffic officers and first responders from the Kenya Red Cross Society and other volunteers are happy with the construction of the wall.

“The role of traffic police officers was like that of first responders. Those were very trying moments for officers, but now, we are happy that deaths have been minimised,” said regional enforcement officer Rashid Ali.

Rachael Maru, who has received an award for her efforts to save lives along the dangerous stretch, said she can now spend time with her family, enjoy a meal as well as enjoy uninterrupted sleep.

“For the past seven years, screeching of brakes and bangs often woke me up. If not that, it was waking up to distress calls by passengers and motorists involved in accidents. But since the barrier was erected, I now sleep well,” she said at her home in Salgaa.

The 43-year-old woman has lost count of the number of accidents she has responded to and only said, “they are many.”

Night calls

Joel Koskey, who operates a boda boda on the stretch, said night calls to ferry the injured to hospital have reduced.

Daniel Wekesa, a victim of the 2009 oil tanker tragedy, said screeching of brakes and bangs are no more.

Drivers who spoke to The Standard said with the wall in place they feel confident and safe using the route.

Josphat Keter, a driver, said he has been using the route for five years and has witnessed a drastic drop in the number of road accidents since the barrier was put up.