Why you're more likely to be hit by a speeding truck in Kakamega

A truck transporting sugar cane passing through Kakamega town on
November 30, 2022.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group.

At the crack of dawn, the roar of trucks speeding along the Kakamega-Webuye road is deafening.

Drivers impatiently honk their horns to warn motorists ahead and other road users to keep out of the way as the trucks perilously cruise to their destinations.

The tarmacking of the Kakamega-Webuye road had somewhat improved road safety and minimised accidents.

But the trucks have triggered complaints from motorists, pedestrians, boda boda riders and tuk tuk operators.

They accuse truck drivers of endangering the lives of other road users by driving recklessly as they rush to pick up loads of cane and transport it to millers.

Nation.Africa has established that some of the cane trucks are hired by private sugar millers.

These truck drivers are usually under pressure to make more trips and deliver more raw material to the sugar factories.

Western region traffic boss Joseph Matiku said: “We have had several meetings with the sugar firms to discuss the issue of road safety with truck drivers.

“We continue to receive complaints on the conduct of the drivers and this is worrying as we approach the festive season.”

Truck drivers found flouting traffic regulations will face law, he added.

“It looks like our meetings have not borne fruit and we must now act to restore sanity on our roads. We cannot allow the truck drivers to put the lives of other road users at risk,” he said.

An official from one sugar factory said the miller has rules in place to ensure drivers observe traffic regulations.

“Before the drivers leave the yard every morning at 4am, we have regular meetings with them and one of the things we discuss is about road safety. Drivers found flouting traffic regulations will face the law,” said the official, who requested not to be named.

On November 15, a truck transporting cane to West Kenya Sugar Company burst into flames after colliding with a lorry near Ekama on the Kakamega-Bungoma road.

The drivers of the two vehicles escaped unhurt.

Similar accidents have been reported in Kaburengu on the Kakamega-Webuye road.

Bumps

Tractors transporting cane to sugar factories have compounded the problem on the busy road by obstructing other motorists.

Because of the speeding trucks, bumps have been erected on sections of the road, including spots used by school children to cross the road.

One such spot is near Mwiyala Primary School, just after Lurambi trading centre, on the Kakamega-Webuye road.

The section is usually busy in the morning as children from nearby homes rush to cross the road to get to the school.

A bump was erected there last month and a zebra crossing set up near the school’s main gate.

Last month, a boda boda rider was crushed to death by a tractor transporting cane as he attempted to cross the road on his motorcycle to Koromatangi estate, near Lurambi.

Trucks heading to Busia for cane cause nightmares for other motorists on the Kakamega-Mumias-Busia road.

At Mwiyala Primary, learners must wait patiently and closely monitor activities on the road before crossing to or from the school.

In Kakamega town, pedestrians using designated zebra crossing points have not been spared by the speeding truck drivers, who hoot loudly as they drive by.

Private sugar millers in Kakamega County rely on trucks to transport cane from fields in Busia, Bungoma and as far away as Homa Bay and Migori counties.

A crippling shortage of raw material in the Western and Nyanza regions has triggered a scramble for cane from farmers in remote areas.

Truck drivers create havoc on roads as they cruise to their destinations to collect cane.

On November 9, a truck loaded with cane overturned a short distance from Ilesi trading centre on the busy Kakamega-Kisumu road, disrupting traffic flow for several hours.

The driver was reported to have lost control of the vehicle as he descended a steep section at high speed.

Motorists who spoke to Nation.Africa complained that truck drivers are reckless and flout traffic regulations.

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