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Economy

Thika Road death puts footbridges promise in focus

Motorists have been forced to slow down at several sections along the highway that have bumps and zebra crossings. PHOTO | FILE
Motorists have been forced to slow down at several sections along the highway that have bumps and zebra crossings. PHOTO | FILE 

Motorists using Thika Road were Monday stuck in a six-kilometre traffic snarl-up caused by a blockade of the road by protesters angered by the death of a boda boda rider in an accident.

The accident puts the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) on the spot for delayed promises to erect footbridges on the busy highway.

Residents of Witeithie area near Mang’u High School barricaded the highway for the better part of the morning rush hour before anti-riot police the situation in the afternoon.

“There was a fatal accident; the boda boda riders and residents barricaded the road and that caused heavy traffic,” said the Central Regional Traffic Police Commander Jane Kuria in a phone interview.

A motorist who was stuck in the jam for hours said the snarl up had taken all the productive morning hours.

“We have stuck here for almost three hours, economically this is a loss considering the number of hours we have been here,” said Nitesh Shah in a phone call to the Business Daily newsroom.

KeNHA advertised tenders for constructing four more footbridges on busy sections of the highway.

NTSA director general Francis Meja said on phone the death makes the need for footbridges even more urgent to avert further loss of lives.

“The area (Witeithie) deserves a footbridge for safety of people crossing the road. We have resorted to using bumps to slow down motorists,” said Mr Meja.

In a tender notice published last month, KeNHA invited bids for contracts to build four new footbridges that will be at the School of Monetary Studies, Roasters (near Garden City Mall), Witeithie and Mang’u road.

“KeNHA has invited bids for consulting firms to offer consultancy services for the preliminary and detailed engineering design and supervision of pedestrian crossing (footbridge) on the Nairobi-Thika superhighway,” a tender notice from the KeNHA indicated.

The tender closed on October 25.

There are 18 footbridges along the highway with 10 others on the cards.

Frequent users of the highway have been requesting more footbridges at spots like Gwa Kairu near Kenyatta University (Ruiru campus), the Toll Station near Ruiru Club, Juja High, near Ndarugo area and the Bob Harries/Nyacaba road crossing.

Motorists have been forced to slow down at several sections along the highway that have bumps and zebra crossings.

In March, Transport secretary James Macharia announced that the zebra crossings along the highway would be replaced by footbridges at a cost of Sh300 million.

According to the NTSA, pedestrian fatalities in Kenya are at 40 per cent.

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