By Samson Ateka
Sports Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohammed is calling for an end to death trap street racing which continues to claim lives of several young people in the country.
This follows a fatal street racing in Arusha which claimed lives of several Kenyans and Tanzanians. She described the Arusha incident as unfortunate and urged those involved to embrace Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) sanctioned calendar events.
In a statement, Amb. Amina urged all rally fans and enthusiasts to comply with set rules of participation and keep a safe distance from the speeding cars during the local and International events which will be taking place in Kenya and beyond.
The fatalities occurred in a drag race dubbed ‘Arusha Race” between Kenyan and Tanzania racers who converged on Oldonyo-Sambu in the Ngorongoro District of Arusha to try out their speed antics.
Several other stakeholders speaking on condition of anonymity also aired their views on the menace saying we must stop this human slaughter in the name of motorsports.
These races have for many years been synonymous with Uhuru Highway and Forest Road at night and now the Southern bypass.
One motorsports fan posted: “Is it possible to put these kids under KMSF and force them to abide by all safety rules and regulations of Kenyan Motorsports. I have a feeling this will not be the first and won’t be the last?”
Another one said: “My understanding is that any type of four wheel Motorsport event should receive a permit to run the event from KMSF who would only issue the permit if the organizers plan meets safety regulations. So wonder if these events have a permit. They above all should be aware of safety requirements required in an event, not just for competitors but also spectators.”
A senior motorsports administrator said: “My understanding is that by the Kenya sport code, all 4 Wheel Motorsport events are under the Kenya Motorsport Federation.”
A drag race is a competition between two cars over a short distance usually a quarter of a mile as a test of acceleration. Arusha event which has come under severe criticism from the racing world, was run in total disregard of requisite safety requirements like roll bars, ambulances and proper competition car parts.
“I have noted with deep sorrow the media reports of unconfirmed numbers of Kenyans who lost their lives and several others injured during an Easter car racing accident near the Tanzania town of Arusha. This was, reportedly, a street car racing event where two cars driving side by side hit each other and crushed into the crowd which had several Kenyans,” said Amina.
Amina added that the Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities are investigating the incident “and we hope they will get to the bottom of the matter as soon as possible.”
“I send my condolences to all the families and friends who lost their loved ones and wish those injured quick recovery. I wish to caution Kenyans that all motorsports are very exciting and captivating. The vehicles travel at very high speeds. The drivers and other support personnel are highly trained and experienced. The motor vehicles, motorcycles and other forms of vehicles used in the events are properly calibrated for rallying.
There are various rules and regulations which are set by the international motorsports body, FIA, which govern participation in such events, including safety and security of the spectators.
“As Kenya gears to get our own Safari Rally Championship back as a World Rally Championship (WRC) said Amina said adding: “I wish to urge all rally fans and enthusiasts to comply with set rules of participation and keep a safe distance from the cars during the Local and International events which will be taking place in Kenya and beyond. I also urge all motorsport enthusiasts to only participate in events approved by the Kenya Motor Sports Federation or World Governing Body, FIA.”
Arusha accident isn’t the first for Kenyan street racing but it’s a menace police authorities have had to contend with across the globe. Nationwide statistics in the US in the late 90s showed that for the 49 people who are injured in every 1,000 are those who participate in illegal street racing.
In 2015, Kiamburing TT legend Amir Muhammad was killed in a grisly accident in Kiambu during a practice session.
Jay Soni who was practicing with Amur survived the crash. The duo were members of the crowd pulling Kiamburing TT which runs asphalt street races.
Several other super bikers locally have also crashed to death in street time trials or normal public riding which has been perceived as fast and furious. The 1000cc super bikes can do speeds of up to 300kph which to experts is a death trap on public roads.