The busy Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit highway that awaits a Sh160 billion upgrade has turned into a tarmacked graveyard.
Design flaws, vandalism and reckless driving have made the road that connects the capital Nairobi to Western Kenya a death trap.
In the past 11 months, at least 80 people have been killed on various dangerous stretches of the highway, compared with about 50 deaths in the same period last year.
The most dangerous stretches include Kinungi, Karai, Ihindu, Raini, Mithuri, Kikopey, Mbaruk, Gilgil, Soysambu and Weighbridge.
Other blackspots are the notorious Salgaa section that stretches from Sobea through Migaa, Sachangwan and Mau Summit, and the Jolly Farm and Mukinyai areas on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
Most of the fatal crashes occur at night and mostly over weekends.
“The stretch has become notorious, especially for motorists unfamiliar with the route,” John Kariuki, a resident of Soysambu.
In the most recent crash that occurred a few minutes after 11pm on Saturday night, two people died when a lorry and a 14-seater matatu collided in Soysambu.
The Northways shuttle was taking passengers from Nairobi to Eldoret and the lorry was heading to Nairobi.
Six passengers in the matatu were seriously injured and taken to St Mary's Hospital.
"We have confirmed that the driver of the matatu and a female passenger died on the spot in the accident and about five passengers suffered serious injuries," said area sub-county police Commander John Onditi.
"Their bodies were taken to the Gilgil Sub-County Hospital mortuary. Those injured are receiving treatment at the St Mary's Hospital."
Police were still investigating the cause of the crash, he said.
But eyewitnesses said the matatu driver was speeding and trying to overtake another vehicle when his vehicle collided with the lorry.
"Because he was speeding, he could not control the vehicle, which rammed into the lorry," said Mr John Ombui.
The crash has spotlighted the dangers of the busy highway.
Statistics from the Gilgil-based Road Traffic Accident department show that the Naivasha-Weighbridge-Soysambu section alone claims at least 10 lives every month.
In three months, more than a dozen people have died on the Weighbridge-Soysambu stretch, with police now urging motorists to be more careful.
In other accidents on Friday night, two people died in two separate crashes on the Gilgil-Nakuru highway.
In the first incident, a woman was knocked down and killed by a motorist as she attempted to cross the road near Gilgil at night.
Gilgil sub-county police Deputy Commander Henry Mbogo said the woman died on the spot and the vehicle was detained at the police station.
In the other incident, a passenger died when a vehicle crashed head-on with a saloon car.
"The Naivasha-Weighbridge-Soysambu stretch of the highway is becoming one of the dangerous sections, especially at night...we have been losing lives along the stretch at an alarming rate," Mr Mbogo told the Nation.
Most of the accidents, Mr Mbogo said, occur at night and are caused by speeding motorists.
"A case in point is a motorist who was attempting to overtake several trucks recently on the route only to ram into an oncoming trailer," he said.
He acknowledged that overtaking, especially at night, was a major contributor to the collisions.
"The numbers are worrying and it is high time that road users exercise caution, more so those using the road at night."
In February, a matatu carrying 14 passengers to Nairobi collided with a truck in Soysambu.
Nine people died and five others were admitted to different hospitals with injuries.
The truck, heading towards Nakuru, was trying to overtake another vehicle when it collided with the oncoming matatu at around 5am.
On July 18, a motorist lost control of his vehicle near the Gilgil junction before it rolled several times.
A 78-year-old woman died on the spot and two others were injured.
In June, a Kenya Defence Forces soldier died when his vehicle collided with an oncoming truck.
The accident, Mr Mbogo said, occurred in the wee hours as the soldier attempted to avoid ramming a stationary lorry parked on the busy route.
These are just a few examples of the many accidents reported on the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit route.
Nominated MCA Rose Njoroge said some of the accidents were caused by dangerously parked trucks.
"Some of the drivers park their vehicles with undue care for other road users, leading to a number of fatal accidents," she told the Nation.
Died in October
The Ngata-Sobea-Salgaa stretch has also become a headache for residents.
This is where Italian Kenyan citizen Avorio Paugglicia died in October.
His vehicle was hit by a speeding matatu in Ngata.
Residents experience horrors trying to cross the busy highway.
At least seven pedestrians have been killed by speeding vehicles.
Not even pupils from the nearby Ngata Primary and Crater View Academy have been spared.
Two pupils were recovering at Nakuru Level Five Hospital from injuries they suffered in crashes last month.
Last month, the community on the stretch petitioned the Kenya National Highways Authority to intervene.
Mr Ben Omwandho, the chairman of Green Estate in Ngata, said a week cannot pass without a road accident involving a pedestrian.
"We want the government to erect speed bumps and other crucial road signs on the stretch to reduce accidents and prevent deaths. We have lost very many lives since the year began," he said.
Mr Omwandho blames most of the accidents on speeding.
His sentiments are echoed by Mr Steve Rono, a youth leader, who says a footbridge and speed bumps would significantly reduce accidents.
“From January this year, we have lost a lot of people here. We can't continue losing more lives. We want the relevant authorities to act immediately," he said.
The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway is among the most accident-prone roads in Kenya.
In the Salgaa section, a series of accidents prompted the government to install concrete barriers, which tamed the road carnage in that area.
The 21km stretch from Salgaa trading centre to Sachang'wan has for decades been the worst accident blackspot in Kenya.
Hundreds of people have died and many others left maimed on this stretch that is synonymous with gruesome motor accidents.
The concrete barriers, put up by a Chinese company in 2018 for Sh500 million, separate lanes of traffic and have reduced crashes.
There are also plans to upgrade the entire Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road and make it a multi-lane dual carriageway under a public-private partnership scheme.
The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway is part of the Northern Corridor, an important link to Western Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.
It carries most of the Western-bound cargo from the Mombasa port and Nairobi.
Meanwhile, police have urged motorists to be alert and help reduce the number of accidents.