The crucial highway that has become a robbers’ playground

Armed robbers are increasingly targeting vehicles on the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway

The Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway is a dangerous highway, and not necessarily because of the number of accidents recorded every day along the artery that connects Kenya and the landlocked countries of Uganda, Southern Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

The highway is now fast gaining notoriety because of the increasing incidents of robberies reported along the route.

ROBBERY
Armed robbers targeting vehicles, including trucks, are slowly transforming the busy road into a “robbers’ highway”. The criminals have literally taken over the highway despite the tough talk by the police promising to stop the outlaws.

In the past two weeks alone, more than two incidents of violent robbery have been reported.

On the night of February 11, 14 passengers in a Nairobi-bound matatu were subjected to a three-hour ordeal following a carjacking incident on the stretch between Nakuru and Naivasha.

The five-man gang, two of them in police uniform, accosted the victims after the vehicle they were travelling in stopped to drop a passenger at Karai, less than three kilometres from Naivasha Town.

A victim, Mr Nahashon Berkebo, told the Nation that the gangsters took control of the vehicle and sped off, driving into a thicket where all the passengers were robbed of their valuables, including mobile phones.

CRIMES
The area Officer Commanding Police Division Titus Mathuku said police were yet to make any arrests.

“We are yet to make any arrests but we are following crucial leads and have also stationed undercover officers to track down the thugs,” said Mr Mathuku.

The fact that the gangsters are said to escape using motorcycles could mean that boda boda operators are also in the mix.

The most notorious sections include Sachang’wan, Salgaa, Mai Mahiu escarpment and Karai.

GUNNED DOWN
In the most recent incident on Wednesday, Flying Squad police officers from Nairobi gunned down seven criminals after they cornered them at Kibunja trading centre in Molo, Nakuru County.

Police engaged the gangsters in a fierce exchange of fire and three escaped with gunshot wounds.

The suspects were in two vehicles – a Toyota Fielder and a Prado – whose windows were shattered by a hail of bullets during the gun battle.

Police said the suspects had been trailing a truck carrying sugar from Nairobi to Eldoret and that a pistol with four bullets, a homemade gun and an AK-47 rifle with six bullets were recovered.

CRIMINALS
According to police, the criminals were on their “most wanted” list, and had been pursued from Kayole in Nairobi.

Nakuru County Police Commander Hassan Barua told the Nation that a special police unit had been formed to stop the criminals.

“We have intensified patrols along the busy highway. Last week we arrested some of the criminals at Mau Summit,” he said.