Poor state of Lamu-Garsen road aiding al Shabaab attacks


Lamu, KENYA: Drivers and passengers using the main Lamu-Garsen road have said the poor state of the road has made it easy for Alshabaab to target vehicles traveling on the road.

Drivers especially said it was a challenge to maneuver and move at fast at the required speed while on the road due to the many potholes that have lasted decades and grown wider, uglier and more dangerous with as the years go by.

This follows Tuesday morning incident where a group of over 50 Alshabaab militants ambushed a police vehicle that was escorting a convoy of buses from Lamu to Mombasa and killed two police officers and injured three at Nyongoro area in Lamu west.

Speaking on Thursday morning shortly before embarking on his usual shift trip from Lamu to Mombasa, Hassan Ahmed who is a driver with one of the buses plying the route said security on the road was unreliable despite numerous assurances by security agencies that all was well.

Ahmed said due to the many potholes on the road, drivers have no other option than driving at a snail’s pace something he said gives time and space for the Alshabaab militants who are normally lurking in nearby bushes to easily ambush and attack such vehicles.

Drivers said the overgrown thickets and bushes on either side of the main road have offered the militants ample hiding grounds whenever they wish to attack police and passenger vehicles on the road.

Ahmed said it was unfair and irresponsible that the national government hasn’t bothered to have the road rehabilitated despite the high number of lives of civilians and security officers that continue to be lost at the hands of Alshabaab on the route every year.

He said drivers plying the route are planning to down their tools in protest of the poor state of the road which has in turn made Alshabaab unwanted guests in Lamu.

“We are tired with the situation.Every day you complete your shift safely you thank Allah because its not easy.Police say its safe but people continue to die at the hands of Alshabaab.It’s getting more riskier each day.The government is aware but is doing nothing.They should tell us how many more people should die before they do something about this hell of a road that continues to claim lives.Every driver wants all his passengers to arrive safely but right now, you can never be sure.We shall hold protests and ground transport, maybe they will listen,” said Ahmed.

Travelers are also calling on the government to clear bushes and thickets on the road in order to enable travelers and other road users to be able to see danger from afar and take the necessary precaution.

Lucy Karemi who was traveling to Mombasa said a clear view on the road will also make it easy for security officers to take charge of patrols on the road and subsequently make it impossible for Alshabaab to hide or lurk around.

“These Alshabaab know very well that the road is in a sorry state.Then they also know the route is bushy and have taken advantage of that.That’s why it’s easy for them to hide there,ambush,kill and run back to the bushes and thickets.Why can’t the government clear the thickets for a clear view for both passengers and security officers,” said Karemi.