Its Kiswahili name means “safe” but Salama on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway is a blackspot that has claimed many lives and sparked superstitions.
Most road accidents in the area, which is in Makueni County, have occurred in Kalimbini, Mlima Kiu, Kwa Muia Kalii and Mlima Maziwa. All these areas are near Salama traffic base.
According to officers at Salama Police Station, Mlima Kiu, a steep hill that is scaled using a winding three-lane road, is the most notorious of the black spots.
“Since January, over 20 serious accidents have occurred in this section, claiming 21 lives and serioulsy injuring 47 people,” Mr James Ireri, the acting Mukaa police boss told Sunday Nation.
He says the accidents mainly involve trucks driver carelessly. However, motorists and residents have different view on the cause of numerous accidents at Salama — evil spirits disguised as beautiful women.
They say the evil forces are the property of occultist rich men in the area who are on a mission to kill people.
“It has gotten to a point where we can tell that a fatal accident would happen. After drivers report being flagged down by a woman dressed in white then something bad happens,” Ms Agnes Mwikali, a resident told Sunday Nation.
Many admit they had not seen the killer blondes, their conviction is emboldened by the consistency with which lorry drivers had narrated their encounters over the years.
Ms Mwikali said: “From the bizarre manner in which some of the accidents at Kalimbini occur, I am persuaded evil spirits exist in this area.”
She had in mind two consecutive accidents in which trucks collided and caught fire burning their occupants to death. The more recent of the two accidents, which happened in June, involved a lorry that rammed into a petrol tanker and burst into flames.
Two drivers and two conductors of the two vehicles were burnt alive inside the cabins of the lorries, matching what had befell the two occupants of the lorries in the previous accident.
“Around August and December the ghosts strike and besides the deaths that occur, their presence is told by a sharp trail of perfumes they women leave behind,” said Ms Mwikali.
To many, the evil spirits narrative shared by truck drivers and those neighboring the black spots, seems far-fetched but not to drivers who admit having set eyes on the killer women.
Mr Joel Muindi,a one-time a bus driver plying the route said: “As late as last year, a beautiful woman flagged me down twice at the bridge of Miseke River. I became suspicious and accelerated instead.”
WOMEN FLAGGED HIM DOWN
He would have chosen to ignore the phenomenon, he said, but then the same woman, dressed in white flagged him down at the same spot a week later and a day afterwards, a terrible accident occurred at the bridge.
In June this year, a 14-seater bus that was heading towards Makindu Town plunged into the river at the bridge killing five passengers, one of them a devotee at the local Catholic church: Kavumbu. On Friday, volunteers aligned to Kavumbu Catholic Church held “sanctification” prayers at the black spot.
“While the narrative of evil forces is not a new phenomenon here, reckless driving and complacency of traffic officers in inspecting road vehicles has contributed to the many accidents,” said Stephen Kaumbulu, a Catholic priest who led the sanctification exercise.
A resident and a Catholic faithful Mr Boniface Mutiso, concurred that Miseke River bridge is home to evil spirits owned by rich men from the area.
Mr Bule Jumanne, a lorry driver whose truck overturned at the foot of Mlima Kiu on Thursday said that reckless driving was responsible for accidents in the area.
A truck heading towards Mombasa suddenly swung to Mr Jumanne’s lane as it attempted to overtake another lorry right at the foot of Mlima Kiu, he said.
“With its head lamps on full light, I quickly realised that the driver could have wanted to take his life or he was just being arrogant,” he said.
He swerved to avoid a head-on collision but lost control of his vehicle laden with 23 tons of cargo.
Asked, the truck driver of ten years said that had been flagged down by suspicious women fabled to cause road accidents “especially near Salama Township.
“Drivers may evade evil spirits, but the need to revise our behaviour as drivers is the surest way of guaranteeing road safety,” he concluded.