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SURVIVORS: How we cheated Enziu river death

 Having fallen into fast flowing water in Enziu river for moments, some of the bus passengers who made it out alive have lived to share what happened.

Mr Lenox Mbaji Chibindo (left) and Collins Oluodo (right) address the media at Mwingi Level Four Hospital after they survived Enziu bus accident that killed at least 33 persons. Photo/COURTESY

It is a story full of sad memories, trauma and a call to the Kenyan government to improve disaster management in order to save lives and property.

The bus they were in belonged to St Joseph’s Seminary in Mwingi. It is now a wreckage.

Mr Lenox Mbaji Chibindo, a survivor says that he has sleeping problems due to what happened to him. “I was unable to sleep the whole night because I was trying to see how young children aged six years were removed from water dead. I have lost many friends”, he says.

Chibindo says that such memories make his head ache.

Mr Collins Aluodo, another survivor says that he will never forget what he went through. He relishes the good memories of last moments he shared with his fellow choir members who he was singing with at the banks of the Enziu river moments before the deadly plunge.

Collins says that police should be trained to rescue survivors since they are normally the first to arrive at the crime scene. He regrets that although Nguni police officers had arrived at the accident scene 10 minutes after it occured, they only stood by the side brandishing their guns as divers tried to rescue the Muithi Museo (Good Shepherd) Catholic Church choir members.

Collins advises that the government should train the police on first aid and fully equip them when they are sent to life-saving assignments.

Mbaji says that he paid divers Sh100 to be rescued.

The survivors say that they heard fellow choir members crying and praying. At last, only bubbles were left floating as the vehicle was fully sank into water amid rescue efforts.

Survivors of the accident said that they were getting impatient to attend a wedding at Nuu town as public service vehicles crossed Enziu river. Some of the vehicles that crossed the road before them were two lorries, two Headmaster buses and a tractor.

Mbaji says that when Mr Stephen Kang’ethe, the driver was told to enter the submerged drift in order to take the time-barred choir to Nuu wedding, he was hesitant.


“Some female choir members who were part of wedding planners went to the driver and told him his vehicle is bigger than those that had crossed. We better go. It is time for wedding. Go and ignite the bus we will cross and go our way”, recalls Mbaji.

“The driver was being spoken to but he was not responding”, he adds.

The divers were charging KSh100 to direct vehicles cross Enziu river. On the fateful day, one choir member gave Sh200 to the rescuers and they were allowed to pass. They then bid the divers farewell. They never made it to the other side.

The driver just kept quiet and never went to the river to check the water levels, says Mbaji.

The driver told them in order for the bus to cross the flash flooded river, they need to have more passengers on board. The new passengers added more weight to the bus and they entered the bridge but the bus fell midway, killing many and injuring others.

Some passengers broke the windows and threw themselves into water to swim through before they were rescued by divers. Others clang on the body of the bus for divers to rescue them.

Since the bus had carried church music instruments for the wedding ceremony, some passengers were not able to find seats as the equipment occupied the seats. They then stood waiting to cross the drift to the other side of Nuu road.

Although the government has ramped up efforts to construct a bridge over Enziu river, residents have heard such promises before which never came to fruition.

In December 2019, Transport PS Mwangi Maringa said that the government was prioritizing the construction of bridge at Enziu but two years later, nothing has been done and at least 33 lives were lost forever.

Mwingi residents have expressed lack of trust to government since it usually promises action only when an accident happens in Enziu river but no actual remedy is applied to stop the bleeding and tears.

Mwingi Central MP Dr Arch Gideon Mulyungi said on December 7 that 30 bodies were positively identified at Mwingi Level Four Hospital morgue. Three bodies had not been identified and the government promised to do DNA fingerprint tests to identify them.

PS Maringa said that the government will spend half a billion shillings to construct Enziu bridge which will take 10 months to complete.


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