The dual carriage way under construction between Salgaa and Kibunja junction stretch on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway is taking shape as the area braces to shake-off the black spot tag.
The contractor is currently setting up a concrete barrier, a China Wall, to separate traffic flowing in the opposite directions.
This follows the addition of two new lanes to the previous two, which were shared by the heavy traffic plying the route.
A majority of accidents occurring at the various black spots between Sobea and Mau Summit have been head on collisions after vehicles moving downhill lost breaks and rammed oncoming traffic.
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) awarded the China Railway Number 10 company the contract to upgrade the highway in December last year, following a series of tragic accidents that claimed over a hundred lives. KeNHA’s assistant director for corporate communications Charles Njogu says the project, which cost the government half a billion shillings, is expected to be completed in the next few months.
“The project is set to be completed by May. Over half of the project is already done and the entire scope may be completed earlier than expected. It is our greatest hope that it will serve to reduce the number of accidents along the stretch,” says Njogu.
He says the scope of the project is a 10km stretch starting from Salgaa trading centre towards Kibunja junction where most accidents occur.The police and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) have blamed most of the accidents on speeding, careless overtaking and free-wheeling, especially by truck drivers.
Drivers interviewed expressed their confidence that the upgrading of the road to a dual carriage way will reduce fatality and number of accidents at the black spots but pointed out that lack of discipline among them is likely to remain at play.
“The four-feet-high barrier will reduce head-on collisions, which make up a majority of the accidents. However, there is a need for more measures to manage accidents as a result of failed breaks, which occur due to speeding by undisciplined drivers,” says Peter Onchoro, a driver.
James Wambua, another driver, says with the ongoing construction, no accidents have been reported during the period when the drivers have strictly observed the minimum 30km per hour speed.
He urges the government to come up with measures that will ensure even with the median barrier, other traffic regulations are observed to avert the disastrous carnage by careless drivers.
“There has not been tragic accidents since the construction began. The only thing that has changed is the strict observance of the minimum speed due to the ongoing road works. The government should ensure the same is adhered to after completion or else the trend resumes,” says Wambua.
The drivers call upon the government to operationalise streetlights erected along the notorious route, especially at the blackspots.
They promise to help reduce accidents too.