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Careless lorry drivers and narrow bridges that claim innocent lives

WESTERN
By Alexander Chagema | August 27th 2021

Accident scene, Kamukuywa bridge, Bungoma County. August 25, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Lunyerere, Kaburengu, Kipkaren and Kamukuywa bridges in Western Kenya carry the unenviable tag of killer crossings

Some of the most grisly road accidents in the Western region have happened on the bridges.

For long, residents blamed narrow roads for the spate of accidents.

In recent years, the national government has undertaken massive infrastructural development that has led to the upgrade of major roads and bridges, but this has not reduced the frequency or number of accidents.

Kaburengu junction and the bridge are notorious for fatal accidents.

“We cannot continue to lose people at this spot when something can be done about it,” Elizabeth Lyomu, a resident of  Kaburengu, Webuye, said after an accident claimed six lives at Kaburengu on August 21, 2021. 

The accident happened almost a year after another one claimed seven lives.

A lorry that was reported to have had faulty brakes hit a matatu. 

Kipkaren bridge, Lugari, Kakamega County. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

And in December 2018, 12 people died after a tanker rammed a matatu at the junction. 

“Bumps force the heavy lorries to slow down as they approach the bridge, and are unable to go up the steep incline.

"Many roll back and cause accidents,” said Kenneth Odhiambo, a resident. 

At the Kamukuywa bridge is a wreck of a truck that was involved in a multiple car crash the previous evening. It is blocking one side of the busy road. 

"Lorry drivers have no respect for other road users. They always approach the bridge at high speeds, sometimes on free gear.

"On this stretch, most of the accidents are caused by lorry drivers," said Robert Wakhungu, another resident. 

Festus Matolo, who runs a furniture workshop close to the Kipkaren Bridge, said fatigue among drivers was also a major cause of the accidents.

"I once woke up to find a trailer that had veered off the road at the entrance of my shop. The driver had dozed off," said Festus Matolo, adding that the narrow bridge makes it difficult for vehicles to bypass each other at high speeds. 

Festus Matolo. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

But according to Ephraim Anzeze, expanding the Kakamega–Kisumu Road has not reduced accidents at Lunyerere Bridge. 

"Vehicles from either direction approach the bridge at high speeds. That is a major cause of accidents here," said Aggrey Nagweya, a resident. 

Barely ten metres to Lunyerere Bridge, from Kisumu, is a turn to Itando Mission Hospital on the right and another to Ilunza Water Supply on the left.

Getting off the main road to the dirt roads to these busy areas is quite tricky. 

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