The festive season is here with us again. And as is the tradition in Kenya, many urban residents will travel to their rural homes to celebrate Christmas with families.
Major highways are expected to be jammed as thousands, if not millions, of travellers, using both private and public means head to their destinations.
Punishing traffic jams, which are normally the preserve of cities and big towns, will now extend to the highways leading upcountry.
The experience of a group of people travelling to Kakamega through Nakuru last Christmas can serve to illustrate the kind of trouble that motorists go through this season. Instead of the usual six hours, the journey took more than 10 hours.
The reason is that the roads were jammed right from Waiyaki Way, Nairobi, all through to Naivasha, Gilgil, Nakuru, Molo, Kapsabet, Chavakali to Kakamega.
People travelling to Kisumu, Eldoret, Bungoma and Kitale had the same experience. Motorists to Murang’a Nyeri, Meru, Machakos, Voi and Mombasa were also stuck in massive traffic jams for hours.
The experience of many travellers is likely to be the same this festive season.
But motorists to South Rift, South Nyanza, Luo-Nyanza and Western Kenya can save themselves a lot of agony and time on the roads by thinking outside the traditional routes to their destinations.
Motorists need to be flexible where there are options. For instance, instead of using the Naivasha, Gilgil, Nakuru, Molo route, it would be less hectic and indeed faster for travellers to Kericho, Kisumu and Kakamega to use the new route through South Rift to Sondu.
The route is slightly longer by about 60 kilometres for those travelling to Kisumu, but with minimal traffic and smooth roads, it would eventually be faster than the traditional route.
For Kisumu and Kakamega motorists, from Nairobi, try driving through Mai Mahiu, Suswa, Narok, Longisa to Bomet. At Bomet, there are two options which cover almost the same distance.
One can turn right towards Tenwek Mission Hospital and drive all the way to Litein then take a left turn to Roret which is about 10km. From Roret, there is a right turn to Sigowet centre that is 17km away.
The roads, which are less than three years old, are very smooth and well marked. From Sigowet, take a left turn to Sondu, which is about 10km away, then drive to Ahero and Kisumu and proceed to Kakamega. The journey may only take five hours to Kakamega.
Another option from Bomet is to drive to Kaplong, then take a left turn towards Sotik. At Chebilat market, take a right turn. The road would take you through a centre called Ikonge that is in Nyamira county, then emerge at Chabera market and from there you can drive to Sondu, Ahero then to Kisumu.
The roads in this route are also well marked and smooth and can also be used by motorists travelling to Homa Bay and Kendu Bay.
For those travelling from Nairobi to Machakos, Kathiani and Kitui, Mombasa road is very busy during this season, especially from Athi River junction to Makutano Junction.
An option would be to use Kangundo Road to the Komarock Shrine then take a right turn. There is a new, smooth and well-marked road all the way to Machakos.