Scores of students, passengers and traders plying the Kibwezi-Kitui route were on Tuesday morning stranded following heavy flooding at the seasonal Semea River in Kitui South, 119 kilometres from Kibwezi.
Mweke Masai, a resident said that early motorists plying the route were able to use the drift along the busy highway until 8:30 am when the surging waters flooded the entire road section cutting off the intersection from Kibwezi to Kitui, almost half a kilometre from Ikanga Shopping Centre.
“The raging waters are not subsiding any time soon. It might take around eight hours of waiting to enable motorists to use the drift to get safe passage to other side of the river,” said Masai.
Speaking to the press at the Semea Bridge, he noted that since the Sinohydro Corporation Ltd started the construction of the Kibwezi-Kitui road, things would have been worse for the road users as the flooding would have been enormous.
“This seasonal river has led to the death of many impatient people who plunge into the drift despite warning that it is flooded. It has swept away many vehicles leading to deaths that could easily be avoided,” lamented Masai.
Benson Kibwea, who is a cement and hardware dealer, was ferrying goods from Nairobi to Mutomo but was also stranded at the site with other motorists.
Kibwea said that despite counting losses, he would wait for the surging flooding waters to levels that would allow his lorry to navigate through the drift section.
“I do not want to risk plunging my goods into the river. I will wait until such a time that it is safe to cross over. I
also appeal to other motorists to be careful and patient as the flood waters stream down,” added the trader.
Kibwea called on the road contractor to speed up the construction of the bridge at Semea River to enable motorists use the road uninterrupted and expand it to accommodate more vehicles using the bridge at the same time.
Douglas Kithome, a matatu driver, regretted that the flooded intersection had taken a heavy toll on his income leading into a loss as he remained stranded in the area with passengers from Mbitini to Mombasa.
Kithome appealed to the contractor to ensure all the bridges along the highway were completed to ensure safe passage for motorists and other road users, saying that the Mwiwe River Bridge in Kitui Rural should be prioritized following the death of two passengers on Saturday.
“I appeal to my fellow drivers to be cautious as they navigate through flooded sections of the busy highway. It is not worthy to force your vehicle through raging flood waters at the expense of the lives on board. Let us not endanger ourselves and passengers,” he noted.
Kithome lamented that he would camp at the bridge until the water levels were manageable to ferry his passengers to Mombasa even if it took a day or two.
By Yobesh Onwong’a