Raila, Ruto promise to fix Nithi Bridge blackspot if elected

Mombasa-bound Modern Coast bus

The Mombasa-bound Modern Coast bus was said to have been speeding and its brakes could have failed when it cashed at the Nithi bridge, witnesses said.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru | Nation Media Group

Politicians have been using the killer Nithi bridge in Tharaka Nithi County to lure voters by promising to ensure it is reengineered to reduce accidents. Following the crash of a Modern Coast bus last Sunday that left 36 dead and eight seriously injured, the Kenya Kwanza presidential candidate, Deputy President William Ruto, and his Azimio la Umoja One Kenya counterpart Raila Odinga have each promised to redesign the section of the road if elected on August 9.

Speaking in Meru on Tuesday, Mr Odinga said he would allocate enough money to build a modern bridge in order to minimise the sharp corner that is mainly blamed for the frequent crashes.

“If elected President on August 9, I will redesign the section of the road and construct a modern bridge that will reduce the slope and the sharp corner,” said Mr Odinga.

He said that with current technology, it is possible to reduce the slope and corner.

Consoling the families of passengers who died in the crash, Mr Ruto said yesterday in Chuka town that if elected, he would redesign the section of the road within his first six months in office.

“The section of the busy road is a big threat to travellers and the only solution is to redesign it,” said Mr Ruto.

During the 2017 election campaigns, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki, who is seeking reelection under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), pledged to fast-track the reengineering of the bridge within his 100 days in office if he was elected.

Mr Njuki suggested that the bridge be relocated to straighten out the section of the road from Mitheru to Marima markets.

But he went silent after getting into office, though the blackspot continued to claim lives.

Mr Samuel Ragwa, the first Tharaka Nithi governor who is now an independent candidate for the Senate, has promised to push the government to build an alternative road for trucks and other heavy vehicles starting from Kajiunduthi Primary School to Mitheru.

Governor candidate Erastus Njoka (Jubilee), Senate hopeful Paul Mugambi (Jubilee) and Maara MP aspirant Lawrence Gitonga Bongo (Jubilee) have also promised to push the government to redesign the section of the road if elected.

On November 7, 1998, an overloaded 62-seater Stage Coach bus en route from Maua to Mombasa crashed near the same bridge and killed 58 passengers on the spot. Several others died later in hospital.

The accident led to some redesigning of the section of the road between Marima and the bridge by expanding it and adding two lanes.

In August 2000, a 65-seater Tawfiq bus that was reportedly carrying 80 passengers plunged into the same river, killing 45 on the spot and seriously injuring 27 others.

Politicians vowed to ensure changes were made on the section of the road, but nothing happened.

Several other serious accidents have occurred at the bridge, with politicians giving empty promises.

@alexnjeru5

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