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Blame game over Thika superhighway deaths

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 00:00 -- BY STEPHENE SANGIRA
Pedestrians jumb over the barriers to acces the opposite side of the highway next to the gsu barracks...
Pedestrians jump over the barriers to access the opposite side of the Thika superhighway next to the GSU barracks Photo/Hezron Njoroge

A financier of the magnificent Thika superhighway has blamed the numerous deaths occasioned by road accidents on the Chinese contractors. The contractors have been accused of not putting up enough traffic safety management system in the course of construction, an allegation they have denied, blaming it on vandals.

African Development Bank, who have financed lot three of the superhighway running from Kenyatta University to Thika, and being built by Shengli Engineering, said yesterday that the road is "very unsafe to use as their is no proper signage."

A representative from the bank, Dr Girma Berhanu Bezabeh said motorists and pedestrians should be educated on the use of the road so as to minimise traffic accidents as the construction comes to a close.

But deputy traffic boss Leonard Katana differed with the representative blaming motorists for the accidents. He said a new culture should be entrenched as the superhighway "is a new ball game all together."

Katana said the fines imposed on drunk drivers should be reviewed on the higher side so as to tame rogue drivers. "Most of the accidents take place at night yet the speed recommended during this traffic period of construction is 50kph.

He warned PSVs that arrests by a new squad formed by the Police Commissioner to monitor the road will be prompt and swift. "Commissioner Iteere has already formed a new patrol team of officers that will be operating 24 hours in shifts to nab those breaking rules with abandon," he said.

He said once the road is opened fully to traffic, private motorists will be cruising at a maximum speed of 110Kph and public vehicles at a maximun speed of 80Kph, until the current highway code is reviewed by Parliament. The patrol team will also be on the look out for drivers and passengers who have not belted up.

Kenya National Highways Authority director general Meshack Kidenda said the many accidents could have been avoided if motorists followed instructions given by the contractors.