In Meru County, drivers of miraa vehicles are being blamed for numerous accidents and fatalities due to their reckless driving. Many families who have lost loved ones, as well as politicians, are demanding strict legal action against these drivers, who often ignore traffic laws.

Ironically, when these miraa vehicles speed through commercial centers from Maua to Meru and then to Nairobi, groups of young people cheer them on, comparing their driving to the famous Safari Rally race.

For the family of the late Joanina Kainda, the impact of this reckless driving is a painful memory they will never forget. On November 20, 2020, at 5 PM, Joanina had just finished collecting funds to pay for her husband Jeremiah Kariithi’s cancer surgery. He was to undergo an operation at Kiirua Hospital in Buuri Sub-county, costing Sh40,000.

After leaving the fundraiser, Joanina planned to pay the hospital the next day. However, just moments after boarding a motorcycle taxi driven by Jackson Kobia at the Ngundune shopping center in West Tigania, they were hit by a speeding miraa vehicle. Jackson Kobia died instantly, and Joanina succumbed to her injuries at Meru Hospital three days later.

In an interview on February 15, 2021, Jeremiah Kariithi mourned his wife, who had fought hard to ensure he received the necessary medical treatment. “She gathered people and organized a fundraiser to help pay for my surgery. After the accident, she cried out for the person who took the money, saying it was meant for my treatment,” Kariithi said at the time.

Two weeks ago, their daughter Emily Makena revealed that her father passed away in March 2022 from colon cancer and stress. “When my mother died, my father was deeply affected and mourned for several months. If my mother had been alive, my father might have lived longer. Now, we are orphans struggling with life,” said 22-year-old Makena, who is currently unemployed.

According to statistics from the Eastern Region Traffic Department, there have been 16 accidents involving miraa vehicles between Maua and Embu. These accidents have resulted in 11 fatalities from seven separate incidents. West Tigania Member of Parliament, Dr. John Mutunga, has vowed not to stand by and watch as people continue to die from miraa vehicle accidents.

“This is manslaughter because these drivers do not follow traffic laws. They should be charged with murder,” said Dr. Mutunga. The push to punish these drivers has gained momentum following the death of Isaiah Mwega, a primary school teacher who was hit by a miraa vehicle at the Kianjai shopping center five months ago. The accident was so severe that his family was traumatized by the state of his dismembered body.

Ironically, young people in Kianjai praise the miraa drivers, claiming they are experienced and that accidents are merely unfortunate incidents.