Juja Legislator, Francis Waititu on Monday asked the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) to erect additional footbridges along the busy Thika Superhighway to curb rising pedestrian deaths.
Waititu said the importance of these bridges cannot be underestimated, adding that as human and vehicular traffic increase, there is need to construct additional footbridges along the busy highway.
“When awarding contracts for construction of roads, the government should endeavour to include contracts for the construction of footbridges”, said the legislator, adding that more bridges will prevent hit and run deaths on the busy highway.
“Pedestrian bridges are meant to provide a safe means of crossing expressways and to prevent the obstruction of free traffic flow, but despite the importance of these bridges, many citizens ignore them, even though they are aware that some drivers are very reckless,” he lamented.
However, despite the construction of footbridges along the highway, KNA found out that pedestrians still flout rules about crossing roads.
A Businesswoman, Ms. Mary Awino believes dashing across the road saves her a few minutes when she is behind schedule, adding that climbing pedestrian bridges wastes precious time and energy.
“Crossing the road is shorter and faster. I cross the road especially when I have appointments to keep, as I can’t afford to waste time”, Awino said.
Unlike the old bridges across the country, Thika Road Superhighway’s new bridges have sun shields and good lighting systems to illuminate them at night.
Awino observed that these footbridges along Thika road are built very far from each other, thereby forcing pedestrians to either trek long distances to and from their residences or bus stops in order to cross them.
“The distance compels pedestrians to undertake the daredevil dashes across the road, putting their lives in danger as unsuspecting motorists have little time to control vehicles while waiting for pedestrians cross the road”, she said.
A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 29.1 in every 100,000 Kenyans die from road accidents.
According to National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) statistics, 1302 pedestrians lost their lives in 2015, with school going children who cross the eight-lane Thika Super Highway to get to school, being the biggest casualties in pedestrian deaths.
The highway, one of the busiest in the Nairobi Metropolitan Region, serves as a major artery between different economic hubs in the country apart from being an international highway that extends from Nairobi to Moyale, Ethiopia.
Waititu said that without access to a crosswalk or pedestrian footbridge, schoolchildren and other pedestrians are forced to navigate the eight treacherous lanes of traffic twice a day, thereby increasing their chances of being knocked down by speeding motorists.
The MP urged pedestrians to be wise enough to use footbridges, including the additional ones to be constructed by KeNHA to ensure safety is not compromised.
By Yobesh Onwong’a