A Form Three student at Salama secondary school in Nyahururu district was swept to death by raging flood water while returning home on the first day of the term. His four male school mates, who like him had ignored the advice from their teachers not to dare cross a seasonal river near the school, escaped death narrowly but watched him from the other side of the river, being violently swallowed up and furiously rolled over and over again down stream.
Other bewildered day scholars returned to school where they were accommodated by boarders in the dormitories with the principal’s orders. The swollen, angry Morogo river effectively cut off Salama and Lorien locations from Wednesday evening to the whole of Thursday, marooning residents of the two locations who, however, combined efforts in searching for the body of Noah Kiptanui along their respective banks of the river.
An unknown number of cattle, goats and donkeys were reported to have perished in the flood. Salama secondary school principal, Josphat Kimani Muhindi, joined the villagers and the entire school community in searching for the Noah’s remains. He condoled the bereaved family. Muhindi’s predecessor, Charles Gachoya who transferred from the school last year to head Sipili secondary school, also sent a message of condolence to the bereaved family and the Salama fraternity.
“Noah was a brilliant student. His untimely death is a big loss to the community, which should look for ways and means of preventing a repeat of death in such a manner in the area,” said Gachoya. Salama chief, Peter Maina Muthui, who also mobilized and joined the community to comb the river banks in search of the student’s body, also expressed grave concern in the manner the death occurred.
Before the disaster, the principal, and the teacher on duty, Mrs Mugo, had cautioned the day scholars against crossing the river, offering to have them accommodated in the school. A resident of Salama, J.B. Ndung’u, told news people that the disaster could not have happened if pleas from the local people to the Laikipia District Roads Engineer and the Laikipia West Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committee to made a proper bridge at the scene where master Kiptanui perished had been heard.
“There are only a couple of shallow culverts and some short iron rods indicating the edges of the small bridge. The school boy tried in vain to hold on to the rods, but logs being carried by the water that had overflowed the culverts pushed him over,” said Ndungu. By the evening of Thursday, May 10, the search teams had covered more than six kilometres down the river from the ‘bridge’, without retrieving the body. But shreds of the student’s school uniform were recovered hanging onto twigs trapped by rocks in the river.
A teacher at Ainap Moi primary school in Lorian, Francis Maru, said that the ‘bridge has been a disaster in waiting’, and blamed the area’s leaders for the disaster. Ndung’u, a former head master of a local public primary school and currently the secretary of Salama Farmers Company, said that he had personally been trying to follow up the issue of the bridge with the relevant offices since year 2007. Ndungu said that the local CDF committee should use the money set aside for disasters to construct the bridge anew.
“The bridge is on the road that connects Gatundia, Lorian, Salama, Muruku and Lower Pesi. I remember the road had been allocated Sh 3.9 million, but why the bridge was left incomplete is what we ask ourselves,” said Ndung’u, who is also the chairman of Salama Police Post CDF Project.
“Like the bridge, the police post is indicated in books as being complete, yet it requires at least Sh 700,000 to be completed even if there are three officers living there. Electricity passes by the post, we have submitted a quotation from KPLC of Sh 35,000 for the post to be connected, but the CDF people do not seem bothered. The post has been allocated Sh 2.8, but only Sh 2.2 million was disbursed. This is queer,” Ndungu said.
A heavy rain storm had started in the area as well as in the upper parts of Nyahururu district and surrounding districts at around 4:00PM on Wednesday and continued almost throughout the night. The acting O.C.P.D Patrick Makoha confirmed the matter and said that the boy had missed his step before he finally lost balance and fell into the river. He said police officers tried to rescue him but failed due to the ensuing darkness. He also asked those using footbridges to be more care in this rainy season. The body was however retrieved on Friday afternoon, and burried on Monday, May 14.
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