By Kuria Kimani
With the rainy season in full throttle, most rivers are swelling up causing wanton destruction of property and needless deaths. Structural engineering flaws in the existing dams and bridges around the country are being exposed by the raging rains. This writer takes a look at some of the most dangerous bridges in Kenya.
Kenyans were left shocked when a bus ferrying dozens of church members in Kitui county was swept in the flooded Enziu River. The wreckage sent shock waves across the country as the death toll has risen to thirty-one with recovery operations still underway. The church members in the bus were reported to have been en route to a wedding when the accident occurred. It has been established that the bus driver lost control of the bus when he drove into the flooded Enziu River whose capacity at the time of the accident is yet to be established. Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu called on the government to expedite the Enziu bridge renovation which is currently in poor shape.
The Njiru-Mwiki Bridge
This is one of the most dangerous bridges in Nairobi. It has caused many needless deaths as the relevant government authorities remain aloof. The bridge has no guard rails and in instances where a driver loses control they plunge into the river.
The Rupingazi Bridge is found on the border of Embu and Kirinyaga counties. It has been marked as one of Kenya’s deadliest bridges. Many lives have been lost over the years on the bridge. A major cause of this is that the bridge lacks guardrails after a vehicle rammed into them. This led to the complete destruction of the rails which have not been replaced since then. Furthermore, road users are not made aware of the missing rails thus go onto the bridge unaware of the danger that lies ahead.
Saba Saba River Bridge
Located in Maragua Constituency along Murang’a-Nairobi highway, the Saba Saba River bridge is another black spot and deadly bridge that has cost the lives of many Kenyans. It is yet another of Kenya’s bridges that have been rocked with vandalism, lack of accountability from leaders, and sheer irresponsibility. Residents of the area claim that the bridge rails are a targeted commodity as a source of free scrap metal thus the high rate of destruction.
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The Lunyerere Bridge is located along the Kakamega-Kisumu road in Vihiga county. The bridge is another dangerous bridge that has caused carnage on the Kenyan roads. The people of Vihiga County have been witnesses to several accidents including a 2012 incident that left two people seriously injured when a driver lost control of the truck he was driving.
The Western region of Kenya has a dangerous bridge that has had a record of claiming lives and causing injuries to road users. In 2018, 12 people lost their lives on the bridge, 7 in 2020, and in 2021 six people have lost their lives on the bridge. This has been attributed to factors such as carelessness of drivers, narrow bridges, and improper road signages communicating to motorists.
Located in Kakamega county is the Kipkaren Bridge which has also been noted for being a dangerous spot for road users. Residents report an incident where 2 people ferrying sugarcane from Uasin Gishu county to Busia county rolled back in their truck losing their lives in the crash. Residents also say that fatigued drivers who end up dozing off while on the road could be linked to the huge number of accidents on the bridge.
The Kamukuywa Bridge located along the Webuye-Kitale road is one of Kenya’s most dangerous bridges having claimed multiple lives on the bridge. In 2017, fourteen people lost their lives, and several others were injured in a crash. In 2018, seven people died and nine were badly injured on the same bridge.
The authorities and road users are both at fault regarding the high number of cases reported. The authorities must be apt to respond to vandalism cases and instill measures to ensure that the bridges are maintained in good shape and safe for use. Road users are also urged to be vigilant and observe road regulations.