Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
Travelers have been stranded without water or food, miles from any shops.
On a highway between the Kenyan city of Mombasa and the capital Nairobi, more than 1,500 trucks have been stuck since Tuesday night in a traffic jam stretching 30 miles. Cars trying to escape the traffic by turning into the nearby grasslands have ended up stuck in the mud.
The gridlock snakes around seemingly endless fields of grass in the countryside, leaving some truck drivers and bus passengers stranded in the cold without water or food, and miles from any shops, BBC reports. “It’s terrible. Children are yelling in my bus due to hunger,” one bus driver told local news outlet Daily Nation.
Local reports say the jam is a result of heavy rains and roadway repairs near the area of Taru, which have been going on for at least six months. The highway is a heavily used road for transporting food and cargo, linking Mombasa to various countries throughout East and Central Africa. On a good day, it already takes truck drivers more than 24 hours make the 310-mile trip between Mombasa and Nairobi.
The ongoing road diversions have left travelers angry, with many saying that it has inconvenienced commuters and disrupted business:
For Kenyans, these conditions are nothing new. Poor road maintenance mixed with severe weather have often left motorists stranded in gridlock. In 2014, Boomberg reported that Nairobi’s transport system has struggled to keep up with the city’s development. The city has the region’s second-fastest growing economy but its roads are the fourth-most congested, according to a “Commuter Pain” survey conducted by IBM in 2011.
And according to Bloomberg, traffic jams costs the city roughly $578,000 a day in lost productivity.