Tears on day to remember victims of traffic accidents

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

Mr Simon Mwangi (right) and Ms Ruth Ndungu, both survivors of road accidents, during the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, November 19 in Naivasha.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • NTSA to carry out awareness campaign during festive season as it calls for caution in flooded areas.
  • A NTSA report shows Nakuru and Nairobi lead in number of accident fatalities.

On June 1, 2013, Simon Mwangi boarded a 14-seater matatu with his colleagues at 6pm as they headed back to Naivasha after attending a workshop in Nakuru town.

The one-and-a-half journey started smoothly, with the driver urging everyone to fasten their safety belts and one passenger offering to pray for safe travel. However, upon reaching Kikopey, the matatu they were in was involved in an accident with a trailer.

Recalling the accident that claimed the lives of his two colleagues on the spot,Mr Mwangi said that the trailer’s driver lost control after his brakes failed. During the ceremony to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims yesterday in Delamere farm, Mr Mwangi said that the matatu rolled seven times.

Mr Mwangi said that those who survived were rushed to St. Mary’s Gilgil Hospital. There, he was informed by doctors that he had suffered a right hip fracture, and after months of going through treatment without getting better, he underwent major surgery. His hip was removed and replaced with an artificial one.

“I lost my hip, and despite that I am standing here. It takes a lot of time and resources. If you are not well-off or get supported it is hard. I was lucky my bosses helped me, they took over the treatment cost and even supported my family,” he recalled

Another survivor, Ms Ruth Ndungu, was heading back home to Naivasha after a meeting in Nakuru town on September 29 when she was involved in an accident. She had opted to board a matatu after leaving her car in town since she was fatigued.

“I suffered a deep cut in my head and a fracture on the hip. People were screaming, and we were all terrified. The hip bone had no fracture but those who rescued me did not handle me carefully ending up with a worse injury,” she said amid tears. Now the mother of one says she is on a six-month recovery journey.

“It has affected my entire life, I cannot go to work, I have been rendered immobile, I have to depend on someone to drive me around, and going to the washroom is a problem. We are the road users, we have a role to play in ensuring that we keep safe while on the road,” she said.

A road safety status report by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) revealed that by October 2, 330 fatalities had been recorded from road traffic crashes compared to 361 in the same period last year.

Serious and slight injuries increased by 23.7 per cent and 29.7 per cent, respectively, compared to a similar period in 2022. In October 2022, there were 730 serious injuries which increased to 903 this year, while slight injuries increased from 499 last year up to 647 this year.

“Based on the statistics, there was a decrease in all road user groups except pillion passengers who increased by two. The increase in pillion passengers is attributed to unsafe changing of lanes, distracted riding, use of mobile phones by drivers and motorcyclists and other forms of distraction and failure to wear reflective jackets and helmets,” said NTSA, indicating that the highest number of road fatalities was pedestrian deaths at 39.09 per cent.

“In the same period last year, this category of road users’ contribution was 38.5 per cent. Vulnerable road users including pedestrians, motorcyclists, pillion passengers and pedal cyclists contributed to 78.8 per cent of all deaths in October 2023,” the authority stated. Nakuru had the highest number of driver deaths (six), followed by Kiambu (three) and Makueni at three deaths.

“Some of the driver fatalities are because of distracted driving, especially the use of mobile phones, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, non-use of seatbelts, fatigue, poor journey planning and management and poor vehicle maintenance and use of unroadworthy vehicles,” the report shows.

In 2022 a total of 3,936 accidents were recorded by October compared to this year where 3,609 accidents have so far been recorded.

Nairobi and Nakuru lead in the number of fatalities, registering 39 and 35 deaths, respectively. The report states that fatality rates are higher in highly urbanized counties, largely attributed to an increase in infrastructure and population, which has increased interaction between motorists and vulnerable road users.

NTSA Director-General George Njau said the agency will launch a campaign in December for a period of 60 days aimed at creating road safety awareness during the festive season. He called on drivers to refrain from crossing flooded rivers to avert the loss of lives.

Naivasha MP Jane Kihara called on the government to dual the Nairobi-Nakuru highway.