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Why you must stop for those ‘nuisance’ cows to cross the road



Why you must stop for those ‘nuisance’ cows to cross the road

Virtually every Nairobi motorist has encountered a herd of cattle jostling for available space on roads with pedestrians, bikers and cart pullers.

The situation has been compounded by the ongoing drought that has pushed herders from the neighbouring counties into the big city in search of green pasture.

For many, the big question is how to react when you come across the domestic animals which ideally should remain in farms and ranches –and not anywhere near highways.

Unknown to many, according to the Traffic Act, a motorist should always obey hand signals from a uniformed police officer or a herder with cattle.

“The driver of a vehicle shall at all times obey any directions given, whether verbally or by signal, by a police officer in uniform, in the execution of his duty,” Section 52 (a) of the Traffic Act states.

Section 52(d) of the same law adds, “Any person in charge of any cattle raises his hand or in any manner gives a signal to stop, forthwith stop his vehicle and keep it stationary for as long as it is reasonably necessary.”

The law goes ahead to lay down some disciplinary action against motorists who disobey the legal provision.

“Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable for a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months,” the law states.

It adds that if one shall be found guilty of an offence liable for the second subsequent conviction, he or she should be fined not more than Sh70,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.

On normal days you will not miss a herd of cattle roaming the streets causing traffic snarl-ups.

The cows have simply become a nuisance in the city. They sometimes spend nights on roundabouts or underneath bridges.

Along the newly constructed Nairobi Expressway, some cows have been spotted nipping at decorative vegetation or grass planted on pillars.

Steve Kipkorir, a Nairobi resident, says cattle herding not only poses a nuisance but has also become a hazard after he nearly rammed into one.

“Cattle herding in the city has become a menace, sometimes they come from nowhere. I remember I was driving from  Nyayo estate Gate B going towards the Outering Road and around 10 cows came from nowhere. Nobody directed me to stop. I could have caused an accident so I was forced to apply emergency brakes. It is very frustrating because I cannot be fighting with traffic, pedestrians then cows. They should be tamed or else educate the herders,” lamented Mr Kipkorir.

Herders from the neighbouring Kajiado County where a devastating drought has claimed countless livestock are the commonest on the city roads.

They often set up temporary structures on open grounds to harbour their animals at night.

Even Karen

Such structures have been spotted in Nairobi suburbs including Embakasi, Eastern and Northern bypasses, Kasarani and even Karen.

According to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) data, more than 400,000 families are facing starvation and more than one million animals have died in Kajiado County.

Daniel Ojwang a motorist and a resident in Nairobi says his experience with the cows is different from that of Mr Kipkorir.

 “I have come across the herd so many times. The last time was in Imara Daima, but they had two herders; one in front and another at the back. They shepherded the cows to one side for us to drive past in an orderly manner. However, I have never understood why they (cows) are roaming the streets of Nairobi,” Mr Ojwang offered.

Other areas where the animals roam freely include along Jogoo Road, Muthurwa, Makongeni, Langata and some sections of Ngong Road.

Kenya has been adversely affected by the worst drought in 40 years with pastoralists bearing the brunt.

To increase the survival chances of their animals, herders have migrated from drought-stricken counties in search of greener pastures and water.

According to the NDMA 2022 report, the food security situation in arid and semi-arid (Asal) counties continues to worsen.

The population facing acute food insecurity and consequently requiring humanitarian assistance has increased to 4.4 million from the 3.5 million people identified in July 2022 following an assessment of the long rainy season.

This is a clear testament to the declining food security in Kenya’s 23 Asal counties.

A further 495,362 food-insecure people were identified in nine traditionally non-ASAL counties that were assessed.

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