In Summary
  • It gladdened my heart and raised my anticipation when the ministry announced plans for building a superhighway from Limuru to Mau Summit.
  • I have lived the frustration of heavy traffic that often leads to indiscipline as impatient drivers try to make do with what has become an overstretched resource.

As the world mourns victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash and consoles the bereaved families and friends, Kenya — specifically the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development — will feature prominently in the search for answers to the disaster.

Instructively, of the 157 passengers and crew who perished in the Sunday morning accident outside Addis Ababa, 32, including the pilot, were Kenyans.

But there is another problem that falls under the docket of Mr James Macharia, the Cabinet Secretary, that has been haunting the nation: The carnage on our highways.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 3,000 to 13,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road traffic crashes every year.

The majority of these people are vulnerable road users — pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. In addition, nearly a third of the fatalities are passengers, many of whom die in unsafe forms of public transportation.

DEMAND

Knee-jerk reactions usually follow like night follows day.

One of the most famous highways for the usually fatal crashes is the trunk road from Nairobi to Nakuru and onwards to western Kenya and Nyanza, with the Salgaa sector particularly notorious for that.

The rise in ownership of motor vehicles has put pressure on our road infrastructure. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data show that in the year 2000, there were 899,444 registered vehicles in the country, a figure that has risen to more than 2.8 million.

I am not sure what formula should apply to measure the increase in constructed roads, but I can make an educated guess that the mileage of tarmacked roads has not risen as sharply as the vehicles.

HIGHWAY

It therefore gladdened my heart and raised my anticipation when the ministry announced plans for building a superhighway from Limuru to Mau Summit.

I have a direct interest here — as do millions of my fellow Kenyans — since that is my route home to Sio Port in Busia County.

I have lived the frustration of heavy traffic that often leads to indiscipline as impatient drivers try to make do with what has become an overstretched resource.

This indiscipline, which should be nipped in the bud by the traffic police, has often come with severe consequences.

In the past weeks, I have however been disheartened that the government’s efforts at building this highway — allow me to give it the moniker of “legacy highway” — appears to be headed in the wrong direction.

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