Salgaa Road Accidents Essay

Thirty-six people have perished in yet another grisly road accident at the notorious Salgaa blackspot on Sunday morning after the bus they were travelling in collided head-on with a trailer.

At least 30 died on the spot while six others lost their lives while undergoing treatment at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital and Molo Sub-County Hospital.

Read: The horror of serial crashes on the Sachangwan to Salgaa road

Kenya Redcross tweeted that 18 passengers were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

“Our ambulance teams responded to the scene and evacuated 18 casualties to Molo and Nakuru hospitals. The accident involved a lorry and a bus. More rescue efforts continue.”

Among the dead are 34 passengers who were aboard the ill-fated bus belonging to Matunda Bus while the other two are the driver of the trailer and his loader.

Preliminary reports said the accident occurred at around 3:30 am after the bus which was travelling from Busia collided with the trailer at Migaa area, some 3 kilometres from the notorious Salgaa on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.

The bus, which was reportedly speeding, was being driven on the wrong lane.

The latest accident comes just a day after three bishops died on Friday night on the Embu-Makutano road after their saloon car collided head-on with another vehicle.

The accident brings to well over 200 the number of people who have lost their lives in road accidents in the month of December.

NTSA is considering converting the 20km stretch between Sachangwan and Salgaa to a dual carriageway to minimize the unending accidents along the stretch.

In 2017, the spate of crashes started on March 11 when a Siaya county vehicle rammed into a stationary trailer at a parking bay killing three people.

Rift Valley provincial traffic boss Ziro Arome said the driver of the car had been speeding and lost control when he reached the bay.

Two of the victims were pedestrians who were hit as they walked by the roadside.

The third victim was the driver of the trailer who was knocked down as he supervised a tyre repair.

On November 1, four people died after a trailer travelling from Eldoret hit several vehicles near the Salgaa blackspot.

The speeding vehicle rammed several vehicles after it hit a bump and lost control in the 6 pm accident.​

Several other people sustained serious injuries in the accident that involved five other trailers.

Slightly over three weeks later on November 19, 12 people perished in another grisly road accident near Salgaa after a Nakuru-bound Great Rift shuttle collided with a trailer.

Witnesses said the driver lost control after hitting a cow and veered off his lane into an oncoming trailer.

All the 11 passengers aboard the matatu and its driver died on the spot while the driver of the trailer and a passenger sustained serious injuries.

Barely a week later on November 24, a bus driver died while ten passengers were injured after the bus collided with a trailer.

The accident happened near Nakuru Teachers Training College as the bus was travelling from Eldoret to Nairobi. 

Two other accidents within the proximity of the notorious stretch had previously happened at Makutano Junction near Eldama Ravine and at Kamara near Sachangwan.

The accident at Makutano claimed five lives in the 9 pm accident while the one at Kamara claimed the lives of six members of a Kalenjin music band.

NTSA is considering building a dual carriageway between Salgaa and Sachangwan to minimize the accidents which are mainly head-on collisions.

Read: The horror of serial crashes on the Sachangwan to Salgaa road

Also read: Three bishops perish in Embu road crash

 

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They had bid farewell and exchanged end-of-year and New Year wishes as they left their various homes for Nairobi. 

Each hoped to celebrate New Year with their loved ones and friends back in the capital city and other parts of the country they were destined to.

Instead, the merchant of death intercepted them; some ending up in morgues and others in hospital beds with serious injuries. A child, a student, a parent, a family were entrapped by the depressing fate of many innocent users of Kenya’s killer roads.

Thirty-eight lives were instantly snuffed out early Sunday morning in the worst road accident of 2017 on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway. Six others died from injuries while undergoing treatment in hospitals. The latest deaths brought to 250 the total number of people killed in road accidents across the country in December alone.

Read: BLOODY DECEMBER: 36 perish in another Salgaa accident on New Year's Eve

Initial investigations indicate that the driver of the bus left his lane and collided head-on with an oncoming trailer at Migaa, about 10 kilometres from the notorious Salgaa black spot at about 3.30am. 

Both the driver of the trailer and the bus, owned by the Nairobi Bus Company, died on the spot. Among the dead identified was a three-year-old boy. Eleven passengers were admitted in different conditions at Molo District Hospital and Nakuru Level 5 Hospital.

Most of the passengers were asleep when the accident occurred.  They either died or were reportedly awoken by the impact of the bus crashing into the trailer speeding in the opposite direction.

 “I was asleep when the accident occurred and all I heard was a loud bang and screams from all over before I was helped out,” a survivor told reporters from his hospital bed in the Molo District Hospital.

He said most of the dead were seated in the front seats and were thrown off their seats onto the road. Their body parts and personal belongings were strewn along the road in a heart-rending pool of blood streaming down the hill.

Many had travelled upcountry to join their families and relatives for Christmas celebrations and had carried back with them maize, bananas, beans, sugarcane and chickens to cap the month of festivities in the capital. 

Red Cross teams backed by police and locals struggled for hours collecting scattered body parts and trying to match them in a terrifying scene.

Most passengers lacked personal documents, making it hard to identify them.

With that, the death toll during the month of December alone hit an all-time high of 242. It means one person died every three hours during last year’s Christmas period.

As public anger soared over the high fatalities, President Uhuru Kenyatta mourned those killed and asked drivers to be careful during this festive season. 

He regretted loss of lives in road accidents that can be avoided.  “Let us all be responsible this festive season, and more so, those of us who are driving,” said the President.

Read: A look at Salgaa black spot, the highway to death

The National Transport and Safety Authority reacted with an immediate ban on night travel by long-distance buses.

It was not the first time. The NTSA announced a similar ban in 2016, following a spate of accidents but gave in to pressure by transporters and backtracked.

NTSA Director-General Francis Mejja directed that all long-distance travel be restricted to 6am and 7pm.

“Over the recent past, our records indicate that the majority of crashes are occurring during the night and in order to review the effectiveness of the current measures in place to improve road safety, the authority, in consultation with other relevant government agencies, suspends night travels for all distance public service vehicles from December 31st,” a joint statement with the Police Traffic department read.

Read: Two killed in Gatundu road accident

FAILING

Official statistics released by December 26 show that 2,847 people had perished in road accidents compared to 2,914 during the same period in 2016.

Some 11,003 people had been involved in road accidents across the country compared to 12,881 the previous year.

Of the 2017 fatalities, 1,045 were pedestrians, 731 passengers while 308 were drivers.

While last year’s road deaths are slightly less than 2013, when 3,130 people perished in road accidents, the high "holiday season" casualties on Kenyan roads is a matter of national concern.

Sunday morning’s horrible accident is the second most tragic in fatalities after the 2013 horrifying death of 41 people on the spot when a bus rolled at Ntulele along the Nairobi-Narok road.

Read: 17 dead in grisly road accident on Thika-Garissa highway

NEGLIGENCE

The NTSA yesterday blamed the accident on negligence by the bus driver, who was said to have dozed and veered off the lane.

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the bus left its lane and collided with the oncoming trailer in the extreme left of the climbing lane,” the NTSA said in the joint statement.

The authority, which has been on the spot over fruitless crackdowns on the roads, yesterday announced new regulations it hopes will stem the carnage.

The no-night-travel directive could put pressure on day travel, surge fares and create more crises as schools reopen and people report back to work from tomorrow.]

Read: Three bishops perish in Embu road crash

Matatus usually cash in on rush travel by hiking fares and inconveniencing travellers.

However, in response to the government’s ban on night travel for buses, the Matatu Owners’ Association took issue with the timing of the ban.

“There should have been proper engagement to agree on when the ban would be rolled out,” said MOA chairman Simon Kimutai.

“It is true that most accidents occur at night, but then enough participation is required to set the appropriate time when night buses should be banned.”

Kenya Parents’ Association Chairman Nicholas Maiyo also warned of a major crisis in the matatu industry as schools reopen from tomorrow.

“The problem is not the time when buses should ferry passengers but rather the laxity by the NTSA to implement regulations that require two drivers for each bus,” he told the Star.

“Parents and students rely on buses for transport, this policy is ill-advised,” he added.

The NTSA has said investigations attribute the causes of road crashes to risk factors such as speeding, lane indiscipline, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances.

Ahead of the festive season, the NTSA and the National Police Service mapped at least 15 black spots along major highways nationwide, where motorists were warned to be careful.

Incidentally, Migaa, the scene of yesterday’s deadliest crash, was among the zoned areas where patrols were supposed to be enhanced as a measure to boost road safety.

Read: The horror of serial crashes on the Sachangwan to Salgaa road

Last week, a group of church women held prayers along the road.

Officers from the Ministry of Energy are now fixing lights masts along the 14-kilometre stretch between Kibunja and Salgaa.

Other areas included Salgaa, Sachang’wan, Soysambu in Nakuru County,  Bonje in Kilifi, Manyani in Taita Taveta, Lukenya, Maanzoni in Machakos and Kiima Kiu/Salama, Konza in Makueni, Ntulele, Duka Moja market centre in Narok, the Kenol to Sagana section, Kenol to Murang’a section and sections in Kirinyaga.

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