Meru killer party bus didn’t have current licence

accident

A breakdown vehicle prepares to tow away the wreckage of the bus that collided head-on with a 14-seater matatu on the Meru-Nanyuki road on October 8, 2022.

Photo credit: Charles Wanyoro | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The vehicle was fitted with a mini bar, a DJ’s deck for live performances, monitors and a sound system, and lounge seats.
  • The Isuzu bus had ample space for dancing in the middle and strong metal bars where standing passengers could hang

The bus involved in the accident which claimed 12 lives at the Subuiga black spot along the Meru-Nanyuki road last Saturday did not have a valid licence, an inspection has established.

The Buuri West deputy police boss, Laura Khatiabi, said the Isuzu bus, which had been converted into a travelling mini club, last renewed its licence on February 12, 2021.

The officer said there was no evidence that the bus, dubbed “Party on Wheels”, had any permits to enable it to ferry passengers.

The vehicle was fitted with a mini bar, a DJ’s deck for live performances, monitors and a sound system, and lounge seats.

It also had ample space for dancing in the middle and strong metal bars where standing passengers could hang.

It ferried partygoers who were offered a party experience while on the move.

Several passengers who were travelling to Samburu for a night out said the vehicle’s brakes appeared to have failed as it descended the 10-kilometre stretch leading to the Subuiga black spot.

As it gained speed, the driver lost control of the vehicle and it rammed a matatu belonging to Menany Sacco, pushing it over 20 metres off the road. It then crashed into a trailer before coming to a stop.

The impact killed the bus driver and his two passengers on the spot. Eight people travelling in the matatu died at the scene, while one passenger died as he was undergoing treatment.

Liquor bottles

Ms Khatiabi said seven of the dead were male and five were female.

Beer cans and liquor bottles littered the accident scene. A DJ’s mic flag was among the recovered items.

“The bus had a club with seats and tables, and a section with beer. They appeared to have been partying or heading to a party,” Jacob Mwiti, an eyewitness, said.

Francis Kirimi, the nurse in charge at Kiirua Hospital, said most of those admitted had multiple leg and hand fractures, while others had mild head injuries.

Seven die in an accident at the Subuiga junction along the Nanyuki-Meru road

The vehicles were towed to Subuiga police station yard, while the bodies were removed to Meru Level Five Hospital mortuary.

The accident has renewed calls for the relevant authorities to redesign the stretch of the road near the elephant corridor to make it more user-friendly.

Although authorities have erected sign posts along the 10-kilometre stretch warning motorists about the terrain, accidents were increasing, claiming lives and leaving many people maimed.

Sharp corner

The steep section, which is preceded by a sharp corner, does not have a climbing lane and speeding vehicles usually ram the ones slowing down. Occasionally, there are head-on collisions.

Ms Khatiabi said her office has written to the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and asked it to intervene.

“The area along the elephant corridor is marked as a black spot and of late, it is not good. We have seen a lot of accidents. We have talked to Kenha to address that issue so that road users may be safe,” she said.

David Mutuma, the chairman of Menany Sacco, blamed the accidents on the stretch on new drivers on the route who ignored the numerous warning signs.

"It is difficult to see a matatu causing an accident there because the drivers know the route. It is mainly drivers who are new on the route who cause accidents. With the numerous warnings from Kisima, even if you are new on the route and follow the rules, you will descend carefully," he said.

He claimed that there is at least one accident every week and that most of them involve lorries.

Ronny Muriungi, 35, a boda boda operator, said he was knocked down on the stretch by a speeding vehicle on September 6, 2022 and suffered three fractures on his left leg and two on his left hand.

“We experience at least three accidents per month. I am appealing to the government to expand the road. Many vehicles have faulty brakes and some end up knocking down people. My life is ruined. I used to fend for myself but now I cannot work and have to rely on someone to wheel me around,” he said.

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