Uproar as notorious Webuye - Kitale highway claims five more lives

The wreckage of a tractor that was involved in an accident on Saturday killing five people at Maliki in Bungoma county. The survivors were taken to various hospital in Bungoma.

Five people perished in a grisly accident along the notorious Webuye – Kitale highway after a matatu collided with a tractor ferrying cane to West Kenya sugar factory.

The Friday night incident occurred at Matili market a few metres from the killer Kamukuywa bridge where six people perished barely a week ago.

Witnesses said the Kitale-bound matatu was overtaking when it collided head on with the tractor from the opposite direction.

Kevin Baraza said the matatu was speeding at the time of the accident.

“The tractor did not have proper head lights and the matatu driver may have confused it for a motorcycle before overtaking,” he said.

Rammed a tractor

Bungoma North OCPD, Stephen Muoni, said five people died in the accident and disputed earlier reports indicating a higher number.

Mr Muoni said the injured were rushed to various hospitals in Kitale. He urged drivers to exercise caution on the highway.

In December last year, 19 people, including nine family members from Mahanga in Vihiga, died when the vehicle they were travelling in was involved in an accident on the killer Kamukuywa bridge.

The vehicle rammed a tractor ferrying sugarcane.

Local leaders and residents have called for action from the national and county governments to stem the road carnage.

Tractors and trailers ferrying sugarcane have been blamed for accidents along the highway.

David Wanyama claimed that the tractors are notorious for breaking traffic rules. He said the drivers work for long hours because their pay is pegged on the amount of cane delivered to the factory for crushing.

“The drivers work on commission and in a bid to make many trips decide to speed and at times they become reckless. This needs to be checked,” he said.

Some tractors also lack proper headlights and indicators.

The way cane is loaded on the vehicles also obstructs other road users.

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati met West Kenya Sugar management Saturday and agreed that trailers will not be allowed to operate after 6pm pending the passing of the new Transport Bill by the County Assembly on Road Safety.

The county government will deploy enforcement officers to ensure the directive is adhered to.

The governor demanded that the miller trains drivers on road safety and sets up a hotline and reward system that will see whistle blowers who report drunk or careless drivers rewarded.

The company management will engage the County Assembly Committee on Transport during public participation on the Bill.

So far, 40 people have perished along the highway in the past two months.

Meanwhile, Bungoma East Traffic Commandant, Eliud Kimwele blamed increasing accidents on rogue drivers who disregard the law.

“We know the major cause of accidents is as a result of drivers not following the Highway Code. If they did, we would witness fewer or no accidents at all,” said Mr Kimwele.

He said matatu drivers must adhere to stipulated speed limit and passenger capacity.

Kimwele further urged the passengers to also be part of the reforms and decline to board vehicles that are full.  

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