The requiem Mass for the victims of River Enziu tragedy was held today Thursday at St Joseph’s Seminary in Mwingi led by Catholic Diocese of Kitui Bishop Joseph Mwongela and his Nyeri counterpart Archbishop Anthony Muheria.
A somber mood engulfed family members who lost their loved ones during the December 4, 2021 bus tragedy that killed 32 people, fought tears to follow the proceedings.
Both Bishop Mwongela and Archbishop Muheria eulogized the departed Catholic faithful and called for sobriety in the church to help the affected families navigate the loss of their departed kin in the wake of the tragedy.
Governor Charity Ngilu, who coordinated the rescue and recovery operation at the scene, said that her administration will follow up with the National Government to ensure the Sh500 million commitment to build the bridge on River Enziu is completed within ten months starting January 2022.
“This is a very sad day for the entire County. The unity of our people is unprecedented since the tragedy struck. Those who lost their loved ones, we shall stand with you going forward. I also thank the local divers, multi-agency teams for the rescue and recovery mission of the survivors and victims,” said Ngilu.
The Governor called on leaders to fast track the contract to build the bridge in due time before the next rainy season and rename it St Cecilia Choir Bridge in memory of the accident victims.
Governor Ngilu also read a condolence message from ODM leader Raila Odinga saying that the loss is unbearable for families who lost their loved ones in the water tragedy.
Defense Cabinet Secretary, Dr Monica Juma, conveyed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s message of condolences to the families who lost their family members during the River Enziu tragedy.
“The departed were our close family members and people of great promise. It is particularly sad to note that young children lost their lives during the tragedy,” said President Kenyatta.
The President called on all Kenyans to heed the government’s advisory to avoid crossing swollen rivers during these rainy seasons to avoid untimely deaths.
Mwingi Central Constituency legislator, Dr Gideon Mulyungi, lamented that there have been many incidences whenever the rain season starts leading to loss of lives that could have been averted.
“In 2019, we appealed the government for help and Infrastructure PS Paul Maringa, promised to work on the bridge. This is the last tragedy. Even before the bridge is constructed, the drift will be repaired to allow road users navigate the area,” said Dr Mulyungi.
The legislator said that the county will erect a plaque in the area in remembrance of all the victims who have perished in the killer river.
Kitui Woman Rep, Dr Irene Kasalu, who hails from Nuu, said that the orphans left will be supported through their education to realize their dreams in life.
“I would like to caution residents to avoid crossing swollen rivers across the county to avert any tragedy going forward. I thank all those who helped us recover the victims on the dark day,” said Dr Kasalu.
Kitui Senator, Enoch Wambua, said the bridge is a wake-up call, and vowed that never shall the killer River Enziu take lives again adding that the government should act and construct it.
Mwingi North MP, Paul Nzengu, condoled the families adding that local divers helped save lives before contingents from KDF and NYS arrived to manage the rescue operations.
On that fateful Saturday December 4, 2021, St Joseph’s Seminary bus carrying Mwingi Catholic church choir members headed to a wedding in Nuu, drowned after the driver lost control of the 54-seater-bus midstream while attempting to steer through the surging waters.
The draining claimed 32 lives whereas only 12 survivors, among them four children, were rescued from the bus which got totally submerged few minutes after falling over the edge of a narrow concrete drift constructed across the 50-meter-wide seasonal river.
Separately, twenty-one bodies of victims of the River Enziu tragedy were on Wednesday released to their families after a positive forensic identification.
The Mass was attended by Defense Cabinet Secretary, Dr Monica Juma, former Machakos Senator, Johnstone Muthama, Mwingi North MP, Paul Nzengu, and Kitui County Commissioner, Thomas Sankei, among a host of other leaders and dignitaries.
By Yobesh Onwong’a