This road is in Kashmir, not Kenya

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on August 23, 2019 at 15:21
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Kenya, Mary KULUNDU
Numerous Facebook users have shared a post that supposedly shows a dangerous road in a mountainous part of Kenya. However, the road seen in the photograph is not located in Kenya at all -- it’s in India. The photographer confirmed to AFP that he took the picture in 2011 at the Zojila Pass, located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The misleading post was shared in a Kenyan public Facebook group with more than a million members -- we’ve archived it here. It claims the photo shows the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha road in Kenya’s rift valley region. “This MAAI MAHIU road is becoming dangerous because of heavy traffic... Sirikali ingilia (government should intervene),” reads the caption on the post, which attracted over 700 comments and reactions.

A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on August 23, 2019

However, a reverse image search on Google and Yandex show that the image has been used before in online posts that located it in India.

A keen look at the picture gave us a further clue in trying to confirm this -- there’s a subtle watermark over the photo reads “Hinmanshu Khagta”. A search of the name revealed that he is a photographer based in the Indian Himalayas.

A higher-resolution version of the photograph than that seen in the Kenyan Facebook group is available on Khagta’s website. The caption reads: “Zoji La Pass, Kashmir”.

In an email to AFP, Khagta said he took the picture in 2011.

“This picture is obviously not from Kenya. It was shot at Zoji La pass, Jammu and Kashmir, India in the year 2011. I had no idea it was being circulated with inaccurate information,” he wrote to us.

The Zojila Pass sits at approximately 3,500 metres above sea level in the Himalayas. It is considered by some to be among the most dangerous roads in the world, and it is frequently closed when heavy snowfall renders it impassable.

Kenya’s Mai Mahiu, meanwhile, is famous for the heavy commercial vehicles traversing the narrow two-way stretch. It offers scenic views from its winding contours, including from the Great Rift Valley Viewpoint.

In March this year, as reported by local media, the Kenya National Highways Authority warned road users against taking the Mai Mahiu-Naivasha highway after an earth tremor caused cracks on its surface. We've contacted the agency for an update, but have yet to hear back.

AFP travelled along the Mai Mahiu road to show you what it looks like. Unlike the dirt road seen in the misleading post, the Mai-Mahiu road is well tarmacked.

Trucks and cars driving along Kenya's Maai-Mahiu-Naivasha highway. (AFP / Tony Karumba)


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