Police in Kenya have been sent to ease a traffic jam that has seen some drivers stuck for 3 days on the road between the port of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi.
The port of Mombasa is the entry point to land-locked East African countries like Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, and the road carries huge amounts of freight which are vitally important to the economy of Kenya and the region as a whole, writes Jamie Condliffe for Gizmodo.
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Huge traffic jam strands motorists for three days
Reporters say that the delays were caused by heavy rains which meant the road had to be repaired. Traffic jams are an all too common sight on Kenya’s poorly maintained roads, but this latest monster jam is the worst in quite some time.
Willingtone Kiberenge, acting chief executive of the Kenya Transporters Association, told Reuters that over 1,500 trucks have been stuck. The more unfortunate motorists have been in rural areas of Kenya without access to a shop.
“I have not eaten since yesterday morning, not showered and not even changed clothes,” said lorry driver Nathaniel Chweya, who is on his way to the Ugandan capital of Kampala with 10 cars. The jam is only affecting the road towards Nairobi and traffic towards Mombasa is passing freely.
Major Kenya-East Africa trade route blocked
Several impatient truckers attempted to drive on the scrub land which flanks the single carriageway road, and a number got stuck in the mud. If they didn’t have heavy loads to transport it may have been a better option to hop on one of the hourly flights between the two cities which take 45 minutes.
Otherwise there is a railway which runs between Mombasa and Nairobi, but BBC correspondent Mohammud Ali Mohamed says it is old, unreliable and slow. The 500 kilometer journey can take several days by train.
Truckers usually make the journey in just over a day, while car drivers can get between the two cities in 6-7 hours. Infrastructure issues have major repercussions for regional trade and the situation will continue to occur until the government of Kenya invests in its road system.