By Lilys Njeru
When my husband does not return home at the agreed time, this bridge is what, subconsciously, comes into my mind. And it gets me worried that something terrible could have happened to him,” Ms Martha Njoki, a Githurai 45 resident, says as she crosses the same “killer bridge”.
The 30-metre overpass, which is about 100 metres off the Thika Super Highway, is on a railway line.
Commuter and goods trains use it at least three times a day and there are wide gaps — big enough for a grown up to pass through — between the rails.
Some railway sleepers have deep splits, a looming danger for walkers.
As a result, it requires calculated acts to cross. Below, a slow-moving sewage-filled river waits for its next victims, just as it has done for decades.
The infamous flyover connects four populous estates and villages — Kamae, Soweto, Mji wa Raha and Congo — with a population of more than 50,000 residents.
In addition, individuals from other places use the bridge to access social amenities such as Kahawa Healthcare Centre, Kahawa Primary School and the railway station.
While there is the option of accessing the facilities using the main road, the route is long and one would have to spend a minimum fare of Sh100. The bridge route is only one-and-a-half kilometres.
Residents have been forced to use the railway line bridge after the construction of the Kahawa West-Congo-Githurai 45 road hit a snag.
Mr Stephen Kibathi, the chairperson of Development of Soweto Slums group doubles up as a church minister. In the past five years, he has performed funeral rites for about five individuals crushed to death by trains.
“Every year, lives are lost here. It is something that we dread yet know that it will happen, soon or later,” he says.
Towards the end of last year, according to Mr Kibathi, a young man who was a regular user of the bridge was crushed to death. “On that fateful day, he was so preoccupied with his earphones that he did not hear the train hoot. People shouted and made warning gestures at him, but nothing worked,” he told the Nation.
But not only lives have been lost, we learnt. Mr Harrison Ndung’u, a boda boda rider, lost his motorbike at the bridge three months ago. It was barely a year old and he had acquired it through a loan.
“I had lent my friend the bike when it happened. You see, because of the wide gaps, an inexperienced rider cannot ride the bike on the overpass. One has to carefully move it on the rails. When he saw the train coming, he panicked, left the motorbike and ran for his life into the nearby thickets. The freight train destroyed the bike,” he says.
A few metres from the killer bridge, boda boda business is thriving and insecurity has increased.
When the Nation photographer visited the spot, he had to part with Sh200 to be allowed to take photos. And while on a follow-up to file this story, this reporter and a photographer overheard two men discuss how they could make a killing from the camera the photojournalist had.
‘BASE’ FOR THUGS
A frequent user of the route who sought anonymity for security purposes disclosed that the area is a ‘base’ for thugs and a migration route for illegal drugs.
“You might think that they are just whiling away time but they are in business — discussing who to send the drugs to or their next target. Other times, they remove the railroad tie plates and sell to scrap metal dealers,” he said, pointing to a group of men.
Residents are now pointing fingers at their leaders, who they say have failed to act on the problem.
Mr Estephano Kimani, also a pastor, has lived in the area for 16 years.
He said tens of people had died while crossing the bridge. “Several political leaders have promised to construct a connecting road here but they did not,” he said.
When the Nation first visited the area in 2014, there were plans by the now defunct City Council of Nairobi to construct a connecting road but it was never constructed.
Kahawa MCA Joseph Komu faulted previous leaders for not addressing the issue. “This has been a concern for many years and it is my priority project for Kahawa ward,” he said.
However, before the road is done, the bridge will be waiting for its next victim.
Singer speaks after attacking lover at WCB signee Zuchu’s star-studded concert
56 minutes ago
On 18 July, there was fanfare at the Mlimani City Hall in Dar es Salaam as WCB signee Zuchu held a thanksgiving concert months after her debut EP, I Am Zuchu. The event dubbed ‘Ahsante Nashukuru’ mainly featured performances by artistes from the WCB stable and attracted the whos-who in the Tanzanian entertainment and political scenes.
However, singer Gigy Money who also performed made the headlines for the wrong reasons after getting into a scuffle with her lover during the much-publicised concert.
READ ALSO: I was bewitched by a friend – Gigy Money
Peaceful arrival, later chaos
Moments earlier, Gigy and her Nigerian man were seen arriving arm in arm at the event whose highlight featured Zuchu receiving a brand new car from WCB head honcho Diamond Platnumz. Donning matching outfits, the couple was spotted on the red carpet as the paparazzi scrambled to capture the moment. However, all hell breaks loose later and viral videos depict the visibly angered Nigerian arguing with a bouncer at the entrance. After a tense confrontation, Gigy’s man is seen being led by the screaming bouncer towards the exit. Shortly after, a similarly irritated Gigy emerges and follows the pair.
“Gigy! Wewe Gigy wewe!” a woman in the background is heard dissuading the singer from pursuing them but the singer pays no heed and heads for the pair.
“You want to beat me?” the boyfriend is heard asking an approaching Gigy as the bouncer acts as a barrier between them. The bouncer manages to steer the incensed man towards the exit as Gigy follows behind, hurling obscenities.
At some point, a barefoot Gigy turns into a sprint before throwing one of her shoes which hits the man who then responds with an insult. Another bouncer finally intervenes and the two are separated. Gigy then asks for her vehicle so she can head home before warning the press against sharing videos of the incident.
Though the cause of their tiff is still unknown Gigy later made reference to the shocking incident in a social media post, hinting that alcohol had a part to play in the fracas. In another post, Gigy shared a photo alongside her estranged lover writing: “My mad man looked handsome before his demons arose and mine arose too.”
‘Running over Ali Kiba’
Gigy is not new controversy and recently said she’d run over her ex, singer Ali Kiba for breaking her heart.
“I will knock all of them down, I mean I will kill them. In fact, I will flatten them like chapatis. The first person I will knock down and kill is Ali Kiba. Actually, I don’t need a weak car, I need a Fuso so that when I knock him down I will be sure he doesn’t survive,” Gigy told Ayo TV.
Dating Kiba brothers
Gigy had in the past admitted to dating both Ali Kiba and his younger brother, Abdu Kiba. She solely laid the blame on Chekecha singer for pursuing her despite knowing that she’d been with his younger brother. Abdu expressed being heartbroken after learning the two had a fling, prompting him to marry.
“I was very hurt on hearing that Ali was dating Gigy Money because I dated her first before she became famous. But it’s alleged that Ali didn’t know. It hurt me for a while till when I married,” said Abdu.
Defunct Nairobi County Council Nurses Go On Strike, Citing Discrimination By The Government
Why Jahmby Kokai is happy her TV anchor dream never came true
37 minutes ago
Popular media personality Jahmby Koikai narrated how her first attempt at auditioning as a TV host backfired and she was sent home on the first day of the audition. Reliving her prime days, Jahmby narrated how she was determined to follow her dream of becoming a news anchor after completing her degree.
“There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro FM. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it.
“Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu?” she posed.
According to the endometriosis survivor, she went ahead to audition for the position despite the warning and was the first contestant to be sent packing.
“So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said some of us have to go home.
“My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news,” she narrated.
Later, Jahmby auditioned for another TV opportunity only to miss out as well.
“Then came another opportunity over 10 years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. I didn’t get the job.”
However, due to endometriosis, Jahmby was forced to put her dreams on hold and concentrate on getting better. According to her, it is as though God had better plans for her and is grateful to not have gotten the jobs.
“I battled severe endometriosis in silence for over 19 years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilized all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant.”
There was a reality show that was running on one major TV channel here in Kenya, searching for the next top news anchor. I’ve always had the knack for news. At the time, I was working at Metro Fm. Walked to my boss and asked him if he was ok with me participating in this competition. He agreed to it. Auditions were at Film Studios. The queue stretched all the way to the showground. I was at the back kabisa. Imagine 300 people before you. Then we got the briefing paper and it indicated, ‘no persons with experience in a media house allowed to participate in this audition’. Mimi Jahmby Koikai, nirudi home after watu 300 kukuwa mbele yangu? Nikasema zi. So I stayed in line until I got to the audition room. The judges were a few people I was in campus with. I felt a wave of despair. Like I’m here auditioning, yet my classmates will be judging me? I did my thing and I was considered. We got into the house and we were assigned to different groups. I was the group leader and we won the challenge. Later that evening, we were driven back to Film Studios for a briefing. The presenter of the show said, some of us have to go home. My name was called out first amongst other great people. We were dropped home. I cried. It felt like I’d lost such a great opportunity. My mom and late grandma were so sad cos they loved to watch me do the news. Then came another opportunity over 10years ago, I saw a TV ad and decided to apply for the news anchor position. As you see in this pic, I got my hair done at Ralph’s Hair Salon, new suit etc. I didn’t get the job. After KBC, I never got to anchor the news again. I’m grateful I did not get the job even though I felt dejected at the time. I battled severe Endometriosis in silence for over 19years. I think of how engaging the newsroom is and I’m grateful I wasn’t in that space. I’d have utilised all my sick-leaves and off-days and just declared redundant. There are many people like me who are bound by chronic illness and cannot do the things they love. I share your pain. But there’s hope. I’m grateful to God for His reminder that He will restore to you all the years that the locusts have eaten. Also Jer 29:11