Road repair in Kakuma
The main road that connects the Humanitarian premises and the refugee camp settlement is currently under repair.
Last year it used to take approximately 45 minutes to drive from Kakuma 1 to Kakuma 3, the furthest corner of the camp; currently one can travel the same distance within a maximum of 15 minutes while it takes about two hours on foot.
Some of the camp residents interviewed by KANERE expressed positive ideas about the road repair but requested the Agencies concerned to consider ways of reducing the chances of accidents on this road within the camp settlements. The road connects all sections of the camp communities and blocks and passes through the busiest refugee market at Kakuma 1- mostly referred to as “Somali Market” by camp residents.
The road is always busy throughout the day, with hundreds of motorbikes, as well as numbers of humanitarian vehicles and security police vehicles. The latter in particular drive around without considering what else is on the road. The renovation of the road has led drivers to increase their speed. The humanitarian vehicles, motorbikes, tuktuk and bicycles cruising at a very high speed have resulted in a number of accidents. The increased number of motorbikes on this road has led to several accidents following lack of proper traffic regulations as the main lane is congested. “I was using motorbike. It suddenly landed me in a ditch. My mouth hit a hard ground and I lost two teeth,” said Lami, a Sudanese woman at Kakuma 1 zone 3 block 6.
The above is a fine example of the daily accidents that are caused by motorbikes, known as “Boda Boda” transportation, in both Kakuma camp and town. Not only this, but many of the motorbikes are not licensed, are ridden at excessive speeds and may be used to carry three or more people including children as well as heavy luggage well beyond their capacity.
The safety of pedestrians crossing this highway is in jeopardy, especially children as they go to and from schools. In the beginning the campsite planner failed to give consideration to the topography thus the settlement remains linear.
Refugee community leaders have asked about speed limits that drivers should be accustomed to while driving on the roads within the camp settlement. In the humanitarian compounds the speed limit is indicated as 5km per hour. In the same way camp residents will also want to know the speed limit on this road which in most areas passes within a few meters of refugees’ houses. The worst thing is that there are no road bumps on the newly constructed road, which is a large concern to the pedestrians. “We have asked UNHCR about the lack of bumps on this road. Security patrol vehicles are always over speeding yet there not been insecurity alarm every hours of the day. It scares everyone,” said a Somali refugee leader in Kakuma 1.
Safety measures ought to have been considered during the planning, such as fixing simple road signs at busy spots with a lot of pedestrian traffic, especially at Kakuma 1 Somali Market Center, around the refugee main hospital and Kakuma 3 areas of settlement. Some refugee leaders have also suggested that road bumps should be placed at Mogadisho primary school adjacent to the Somali administration at Kakuma 1 zone 1 block 4 up to the Food Distribution Center 1 in Kakuma 1 zone 2. Likewise bumps should be placed at Hong Kong market in Kakuma 1 zone 3 and 4, Kakuma 3 markets and other Food Distribution Centers. This will warn drivers and motorcyclists to be highly careful when passing such points and where roads are crisscrossing in front of Fugi primary school in Kakuma 2.
In February/March, work on the road came to a standstill at Multipurpose Center 1 in Kakuma 1 with three heaps of sand left in view. The work has resumed of late and is progressing towards Kakuma 2.
As Kakuma lies on the rift valley plain, many meandering rivers intersect within various sections in the camp which is always flooding in the event of rain. This constrains the movement of the vehicles and residents between the wider camp settlements. The two major seasonal rivers between Kakuma 1 and 3 frequently act as barriers to humanitarian staff, refugees and host community.