NAIROBI, Kenya March 11 – At least 10 people were killed on Tuesday morning after a matatu plunged into a valley on the Nandi Hills-Chemelil road, police said, and warned motorists to exercise caution whenever driving on the route which is known to have numerous black spots.
Four others, including two children whose ages could not be ascertained immediately sustained serious injuries and were rushed to the Nandi Hills District Hospital for emergency treatment.
Police said the 14-seater matatu was ferrying passengers from Eldoret through Kapsabet to Kisii when the accident occurred at Chepsangor shortly after 10am.
“We have a very bad accident in Nandi Hills where 10 people have died,” national traffic police chief Samuel Kimaru said on telephone from Salgaa, on the outskirts of Nakuru town where he was attending a road safety campaign.
Salgaa, located on the Nakuru-Eldoret road is one of the country’s black spots, with many road accidents occurring there.
Several accidents have occurred at the spot, the latest being on Saturday night when 12 members of the same family perished on their way back from a dowry-paying event.
“We are stressing the need to observe road safety regulations. That is what we are doing here at Salgaa,” Kimaru said. “Witnesses have told our officers that the (Kisii-bound) matatu was going down the hill at dangerously high speed.”
While police said 10 people had been killed, Kenya Red Cross officials whose volunteers were reported to be at the scene coordinating rescue efforts, placed the death toll at 16.
“16 feared dead and 3 casualties evacuated to Nandi Hills district hospital,” an update on the society’s Twitter handle stated.
Police however, insisted that the matatu was carrying 14 people.
It was not immediately clear if the dead included people outside of the matatu.
Kenya’s road safety record is one of the worst with 3,200 people having been killed in road accidents in the country last year according to statistics from Traffic Police headquarters.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau has assured Kenyans he is determined to minimise road accident fatalities after initiating various measures – including the use of alcoblow – which aid police to identify and prosecute drunk drivers, both during the day and at night.
The government also imposed strict guidelines for night travel which many transport operators have failed to meet.
In the meantime, two cases challenging the implementation of alcoblow will be heard on Monday next week.