Alego / Usonga Member of Parliament, Samuel Atandi has offered coffins and transport to each of the families whose members perished in a boat tragedy in River Nzoia last Saturday.
Atandi, who visited the bereaved at Sango river bank where they are camping to await retrieval of the bodies, said his office was committed to supporting the bereaved and called on county and national governments to equally chip in to enable the deceased be accorded decent send off.
He spoke as the police announced the recovery of the body of another victim of the tragedy, bringing to two those who have so far been retrieved.
The legislator said there was need for the government to come up with a programme that will equip the youth who live along river banks, lake shores and next to water bodies with swimming and diving skills so that they can help during such tragedies.
“The skilled youth will come in handy during such tragedies as they will act as the first emergency line to save lives or retrieve bodies,” he said.
Atandi lamented that Siaya had no skilled divers and had to rely on experts from Bomet County who are still combing the fast flowing, swollen river for the bodies.
“Government support in this area has been lukewarm. How I hope it could have come in a big way to support families camping at the river banks awaiting the bodies of their loved ones as dictated by the Luo culture,” he said.
The MP at the same time appealed to the people living next to water bodies to be cautious to avoid the loss of lives.
Speaking during the same occasion, Siaya deputy county commissioner, Joseph Sawe confirmed the retrieval of two bodies, adding that the divers are still looking for the rest,
“In total, we are still looking for four bodies, three from the victims of the boat tragedy and another of the police corporal who drowned on Sunday on the other side of the river,” said Sawe who was flanked by Ugunja deputy county commissioner, Peter Nduti.
He said there were reports that some two other bodies have been seen floating downstream and a team had been dispatched to try and recover them.
“We can however not confirm whether they are those of the occupants of the boat or the policeman. We will have to wait,” he said.
Sawe at the same time called on the local residents to stop thronging the river bank as they compromising on the Coronavirus protocols.
He said that only close family members and those helping in the recovery of the bodies should be at the river bank.
“So many people are crowding here, defeating the Covid-9 protocols on social distancing,” he said, noting that very few of them had face masks as demanded by government guidelines.
Five people drowned last Saturday when a motor boat they were riding in capsized after hitting a rock in the middle of the river.
On Sunday, a police officer based in West Pokot County also drowned in the same area where Ugunja, Ugenya and Alego/Usonga constituencies converge.
By Philip Onyango