Traffic and Road Conditions in Kenya

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

Road Conditions and Safety: Road accidents are a major threat to travelers in Kenya. Roads are poorly maintained and are often bumpy, potholed, and unpaved.

• Traffic moves on the left side of the road, which can be very disorienting to those not accustomed to it.

• Beware of vehicles traveling at excessive speed, and unpredictable local driving habits.

• Many vehicles are poorly maintained and lack basic safety equipment.

• Heavy traffic jams, either due to rush hour or because of accidents, are common.

• Some vehicles will cross the median strip and drive against the flow of traffic.

U.S. citizens have been fatally injured in accidents involving long-distance, inter-city buses and local buses and vans called “matatus”. Matatus are commonly known to be the greatest danger to other vehicles and pedestrians. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using matatus.

Injuries and fatalities involving two-wheeled motorcycle taxis, called “boda bodas,” are equally common. Boda bodas often fail to observe basic safety precautions and ignore traffic rules. Inter-city nighttime road travel should be avoided due to the poor road and streetlight conditions and the threat of banditry throughout the country. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from using boda bodas.

During the rainy season, some unpaved roads are impassable even with four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance. Travelers are urged to consult with local officials regarding road conditions.

Most passenger trains are considered unsafe, particularly during rainy seasons, because of the lack of routine maintenance and safety checks. The only approved train route for U.S. government personnel is the SGR from Nairobi to Mombasa. However, passengers should ride only in the first-class cabin to avoid pickpockets and facilitate a rapid exit if necessary.

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