Kenya bus crash kills 11 students on academic trip

As of mid-day Tuesday, 34 students are still receiving treatment at Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi, Taita Taveta County. PHOTO | NMG

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Kenyatta University students were enroute to the coastal town of Mombasa when the accident happened on a busy highway Monday at Maungu

Nairobi. A collision between a bus and truck has killed 11 students from a top Kenyan university and injured dozens, prompting the government Tuesday to announce investigations into a "spate of road accidents".

Road accidents are common in the east African nation, where road conditions are often poor and traffic regulations violated or ignored.

Although the number of accidents fell last year, the start of 2024 has seen a rise, according to official figures.

In the most high-profile accident, 24-year-old world marathon record holder Kelvin Kiptum lost his life in a late-night crash on February 11.

The Kenyatta University students were enroute to the coastal town of Mombasa when the accident happened on a busy highway Monday at Maungu, 360 kilometres (220 miles) from the capital Nairobi.

Ten died on impact and another died later in hospital, police said, adding that 42 people were seriously injured.

"The driver of (the) university bus was overtaking a fleet of motor vehicles and as it was raining heavily, the bus skidded to the right side of the road," the police report said.

This "prompted the driver of the truck to avoid head-on collision, hence hitting the left side of the university bus," it added.

The bus was carrying 58 people on an academic trip.

The injured were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Voi, the Kenyan Red Cross said.

"This is unacceptable," Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen said Tuesday, deploring a "spate of road accidents".

"Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of these accidents and appropriate remedial action shall be taken," he said in a statement.

'Deeply saddened'

Kenyatta University said it was "deeply saddened" by the accident and had set up a help desk at the main campus to provide "assistance during this challenging time".

Seven students have been airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment, Joseph Lelo, chief medical officer at African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), told AFP.

"We are quite concerned about their conditions. Some suffered spinal injury, they bled a lot, and they need urgent surgery." 

According to figures by the National Transport and Safety Authority, 4,324 people were killed and 18,561 injured in 2023 in road accidents in Kenya, down 7.8 percent from the previous year.

But numbers jumped at the start of 2024, with 536 people killed between January 1 and February 11, a five-percent rise over a similar period last year.