Seven people killed, 12 injured in Nakuru accident

Eyewitnesses at the scene of the accident on the Nakuru-Eldoret Highway. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

Seven people died while 12 others sustained serious injuries in an accident involving a matatu and a trailer near EverReady Roundabout along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

The accident occurred after a trailer rammed a 14-seater matatu belonging to the Ngata 2NV Sacco which was ferrying passengers to Nakuru town at 7:30 am on Sunday.

The impact saw the trailer come to a halt at the roundabout. 

Matatu seats, bodies of those who perished and crates with farm produce were strewn on the highway.

“Unfortunately we lost seven people in the accident. Breaks failure of the loaded trailer is what led to this accident. It could not stop in time and instead hit a matatu that was moving at a slower speed,” said Nakuru West Sub County Police Commander Francis Wahome.

The accident brought to the fore the impunity on the roads as the ill-fated matatu was ferrying excess passengers and was hit from behind by the trailer barely ten meters from a traffic checkpoint.

Immediately after the accident, traffic police and the public joined hands in saving the lives of the victims.

Agnes Gesare, a trader at the Nakuru Wakulima Market, said she was concerned after her colleague delayed arriving at the market before she learnt of the accident.

“I called my colleague’s phone but it had been switched off. I rushed to the scene and identified her crates and a sweater. It was that moment that I knew she was no more,” said Gesare.

Soon after the victims were removed from the scene, the traffic police found themselves on the receiving end after the irate members of the public chased them away over accusations of causing the accident.

The officers were accused of stopping the matatu on the highway at a notorious black spot.

“What are you still doing here? You had stopped the matatu to collect bribes from them, you caused a distraction and the matatu driver didn’t notice the trailer which was hooting from far away until the accident happened,” an angry rescuer confronted the officers.

Stephen Ondieki who was waiting for a matatu on the opposite side said that he noticed the trailer from afar as the conductor of the ill-fated matatu conversed with the officers.

“The trailer was hooting and flashing lights. In a split second as the matatu was accelerating from the police checkpoint, the trailer hit it from behind leaving everyone in shock,” said Ondieki.

Tony Onyango, a witness questioned how the matatu driver was allowed to proceed with the journey moments after being stopped by the officers despite carrying excess passengers.

“When the accident happened, there were more than 14 passengers yet the matatu had just been stopped and allowed to go by the police. There is no justification for their actions,” said Onyango.

A tanker ferrying maize lost control, ramming into the matatu. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

David Wenani, a resident said that the police were to blame for mounting a roadblock near the roundabout.

“What is the use and how do the officers feel after collecting the Sh100 from the conductor only for the vehicle to kill all these people? It is time the government implements the plan for mobile traffic surveillance,” said Wenani.

Ochako Ayonga, a resident said that they would not allow the officers to return to the scene until their concerns are addressed.

“We want these officers moved elsewhere. We also want to know whom they collect the bribes for. We cannot let our people continue dying on the road yet the officers are part of the problem,” said Ayonga.

The Nakuru Town West Sub County Police boss however refuted the claims saying that the matatu was in motion.

“The allegations of bribes being collected have not been substantiated. The matatu was moving slowly past rubble-stripes on the highway when it was hit. The police roadblock is several meters behind the scene,” said Wahome.

The police had a hard time controlling residents who wanted to steal dry maize from the trailer.

However, the crowd managed to access the container and stole several bags of maize before the owner of the consignment arrived and attempted to stop them by blocking them using his car.

But residents pelted him with stones forcing him to flee from the scene as police fired in the air and lobbed teargas canisters to disperse the crowd.

Dr Emmanuel Sinei, the deputy medical superintendent at Nakuru Level Five Hospital said that they received twelve people with injuries and seven bodies.

“There were two female and ten male patients with injuries. Two men were treated and discharged. Three have already been admitted and the rest are being attended to,” said Dr Sinei.

[Additional reporting Yvonne Chepkwony]