What you need to know:
- Chaotic scenes reported as impatient motorists decide to use short cuts, ending up stuck in the middle of private farms.
- Motorists complain about the absence of traffic police, which encourages indiscipline on the road, including overlapping.
Travelers to different destinations across the country spent long hours on the roads as the Christmas rush caused heavy traffic snarl-ups on major highways.
Chaotic scenes were reported in some sections as impatient motorists decided to use alternative routes, with some getting stuck in the middle of private farms.
At the notorious stretches around Gilgil, Kinungi, Sachang’wan and Naivasha, many motorists regretted that they had spent many more hours than they expected.
At the Gilgil Weighbridge, motorists complained about the absence of traffic police, which encouraged road indiscipline, including overlapping which worsened the snarl-ups.
“I had expected to arrive in Nakuru by 3pm but it is already 5pm and I’m still stuck in Gilgil. I have been on a 100m stretch for like an hour,” a motorist, Laban Okoth told Nation.
At Rironi area, some impatient motorists drove through private farms, only to re-emerge further along the highways exacerbating the situation.
Lari Sub County police commander, Stephen Kirui, linked the gridlock to a road accident along the busy highway.
"There was a slight accident that caused huge snarl up at Rironi area, with some motorists opting to use alternative routes," he said.
It was the same scenario along the route to Naivasha, as overlapping caused heavy traffic jam.
Traffic flow eased in the afternoon as police officers cleared the accident vehicles.
Naivasha Sacco chairman, Stephen Mungai alias Wamanduku, said business was good but decried congestion along the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
“We cannot make even two trips due to the gridlock. Our drivers are spending endless hours stuck in the traffic jams and the issue should be urgently addressed,” he said.
He called for the stationing of more police officers to help clear the busy road, as well as patience and discipline for the motorists.
“We fear the situation might continue until past the Christmas festivities,” he pointed out.
Commuters countrywide also had to contend with increased fares after Matatu operators adjusted charges citing a surge in commuters and limited number of public service vehicles.
Those headed to Nakuru from Naivasha were paying Sh300 up from the normal rate of Sh200. The scarcity of vehicles at public bus stops was evident.
A traveller, Kamau Kiama, said he was “comfortable” with the increased charges as all he was looking forward to was to join family members for the festivities.
“Last year, I missed out on a family reunion due to the Covid-19 restrictions but today I have to travel,” he said.
Most matatu operators increased fare by about 50 per cent to more than double the normal rate.
Commuters headed to Eldoret paid Sh1,100, up from the normal Sh800.
Travellers from Nairobi to Eldoret have had to part with Sh2,000, up from the normal Sh900.
At the Coast, regional police Commander Manase Musyoka said traffic officers will work closely with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to enforce traffic regulations, saying public service vehicles and other motorists should avoid reckless driving during the festive period.
“Public transport vehicles and other motorists should strictly obey traffic regulations including avoiding drunk driving and over speeding,” he said.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of ecstatic local and international visitors are trooping various coastal hotels, apartments and other tourist establishments for the holiday season.
There was a massive traffic snarl up along the Makupa Causeway after a fuel tanker overturned, spilling its content on the road.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of passengers were left stranded at the Kibarani area along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway after a container fell off a lorry, blocking the busy road.
In Samburu, it was a busy time at bus stations in Maralal town as residents keen to celebrate Christmas Day with their families struggled to secure vehicles for their upcountry journeys.
Long queues were seen at the Maralal Safaris and Nuclear booking offices as travelers struggled to secure tickets for travels to various destinations.
In Nyandarua, there was minimal movement of people to the rural areas for Christmas this year, compared to a similar period last year.
Matatu operators said it was business as usual, but were optimistic of increased business starting today.
"We expect more movement of people starting tomorrow throughout the weekend. The holidays extend to Monday, which is an added advantage to us," said a Matatu driver, Mr Mwangi Waweru.
On a normal Christmas season, the Gilgil – Ol Kalou – Nyahururu – Maralal, and Nakuru – Nyahururu – Nyeri roads are characterised by heavy inbound traffic about three days to Christmas, as most commuters head to their rural homes.
However, traders said that business has been good in the last one week, with customers flooding clothes and retail outlets for Christmas shopping.
Reported by Steve Njuguna, Macharia Mwangi, Waikwa Maina, Vitalis Kimutai , Geoffrey Ondieki, Stanley Kimuge, Brian Ocharo and Lucy Mkanyika