Design Flaws on Nairobi Roads Endangering Motorists

  • A section of the Thika Superhighway in Nairobi
    A section of the Thika Superhighway in Nairobi
    Simon Kiragu
  • Nairobi County has seen an improvement in the road infrastructure with the undertaking of various development projects.

    On the other hand, there are some issues on the roads which, if not addressed adequately, can be the source of crashes on the roads.

    In an annual report by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in 2019, Nairobi alone was seen to have 74 black spots, with seven spots identified from Bellevue Point on Mombasa Road to the Nairobi-Machakos county border.

    An aerial view of the on-going Nairobi Expressway project along Mombasa Road
    An aerial view of the on-going Nairobi Expressway project along Mombasa Road

    Roads with the highest number of accidents were; Thika Superhighway, Landhies Road, Haile Selassie, Eastleigh First Avenue, Juja Road, Jogoo Road, Lunga Lunga, Likoni, Kangundo and Eastern bypass.

    Other roads the report indicated were North Airport Road, Enterprise, Southern bypass, Naivasha Road, Valley Road, Mbagathi Road, Langata Road, Limuru Road and Northern bypass.

    Here are some of the design flaws on some of the major roads that contribute to accidents.

    The sudden end of lanes

    A major problem, particularly with those under construction or maintenance, is the sudden end of lanes which has led to drivers crashing while travelling.

    The situation which is witnessed on Outering Road and Mombasa Road has caused some crashes among road users.

    The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) sought to make the signs for the ending lanes more prominent on Outer Ring road by putting tyres coloured white and yellow at the joints.

    Some road users have noted that the intervention may not be sufficient to prevent accidents in the future.

    The wreckage of a car that was involved in a road accident along Mombasa Road on May 23, 2020.
    The wreckage of a car that was involved in a road accident along Mombasa Road on May 23, 2020.
    Twitter

    Loose chippings

    A number of motorists using the Thika Superhighway expressed their concern over loose chippings on the road with some stating that the chippings have caused damage to their windscreens.

    The Kenya Urban Roads Authority explained that the loose chippings were actually put there as a road maintenance exercise.

    Referred to as surface dressing, road workers spray the existing road surface with a coating of bitumen, then spread stone chippings on top.

    KeNHA workers conducting road maintenance work on Thika Super Highway
    KeNHA workers conducting road maintenance work on Thika Super Highway
    KeNHA

    Vehicles are allowed onto the new surface, at a reduced speed, to help to push the chippings into the road.

    Drivers are advised to keep to the temporary low-speed limits and avoid sharp turns. This allows the surface to stabilise, and also prevents any damage to the vehicle.

    Poor drainage

    Poor drainage on most roads has seen flooding become a factor endangering lives of motorists on the road.

    In December 2019, a night of rains left most roads in Nairobi flooded with most affected areas being Westlands, South C, Thika Road, Parklands and Kilimani.

    The Kenya Red Cross warned motorists to be extra cautious issuing an advisory.

    “A section of Thika Superhighway road between NYS headquarters and Muthaiga Police Station is flooded due to heavy rains experienced overnight. Motorists are advised to avoid using service lane and exercise caution along the route,” the Kenya Red cross cautioned motorists in a statement.

    Flooding on Thika Superhighway in December 2019.
    Flooding on Thika Superhighway in December 2019.
    Twitter

    The contractor shifted the blame to the county government for the drainage systems which were overwhelmed by the high volume of rainfall in that period.

    Zero markings to indicate bumps

    Other roads, especially estate roads are not marked to direct drivers on any bumps on the road.

    In a 2019 report, NTSA noted that undesignated bus stops also contributed to accidents in the urban areas. According to the authority, there are no road signs and most of the road is unmarked.

    Another aspect is the speeding motorists coupled with slippery sections, illegal turning to the opposite lanes and slow-moving trucks due to the hills,” the report read in part.

    NTSA Advisory

    The most recent report by NTSA indicated that 2,689 lives were lost between January 1 and September 30, 2020, compared to 2,655 during the same period in 2019, which indicated an increase of 1.3%.

    NTSA and the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, expressed concern over a spike in accidents, coming soon after Uhuru relaxed curfew rules in the country.

    The government revealed it has resorted to re-introducing alcoblow tests in major towns in a bid to control road carnage.

    NTSA Director General George Njao speaks during a National Security Development Forum in Mombasa in January 2020
    NTSA Director General George Njao speaks during a National Security Development Forum in Mombasa in January 2020
    File

    Motorists are advised to drive cautiously on the roads to prevent accidents as well as being courteous to other road users.