The Government will construct a bridge at River Enziu in Mwingi at a cost of Sh30 million to avert disaster during the rainy seasons.
Infrastructure Principal Secretary (PS), Paul Maringa reiterated that the government’s has resolved to go full throttle in ensuring the construction works begin as anticipated to end the misery for locals plying the Nguni-Nuu road that traverses through the killer river.
On Saturday December 4, 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 surging waters.
The deadly plunge claimed 32 lives whereas only 12 survivors, among them four children, were rescued from the bus, which got totally submerged few minutes after going over the edge of a narrow concrete drift constructed across the 50-meter-wide seasonal river.
In March 2018, the river claimed the lives of five people after they were swept away by raging flash floods after river banks unexpectedly broke due to the heavy rains.
The same year, two months later, a woman who was accompanied by her three friends for a burial in the area, perished in the killer river when raging waters swept away their vehicle.
The four were found buried 10 metres underneath the river bed after 22 days of relentless search in the river, which is now considered the most dangerous in Kitui County.
Similar tragedies were reported in 2019 and 2020, where residents say that a number of lives were lost during the rainy seasons.
Maringa stated the government would reconstruct the Enziu Bridge on the Nuu–Nguni route whose construction stalled in 2014.
Mwingi Central Member of Parliament (MP), Gideon Mulyungi, lamented that there have been many incidences whenever the rain season starts, leading to loss of lives that could have been averted.
“Every time when it is raining, there have to be casualties. The County Government says that the bridge is under the National Government but has stalled. We need concerted efforts to revive its construction,” said Mulyungi.
The Legislator reiterated the importance of having the Enziu Bridge, observing it affected residents immeasurably, insisting that the construction of the bridge was more important than the construction of the Sh1.4 billion Nuu-Nguni road.
“Although River Enziu is a water source to locals, the river has also claimed lives of locals and the call for a bridge is overriding all other interests of the people of Nuu and its environs,” said the Mwingi Central MP..
In his condolence message on Sunday, December 5, President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed to relay measures the Government was taking to prevent similar mishaps from recurring.
The bridge is part of the 35-kilometre Nuu-Nguni Road project whose tarmacking was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June 2017, but five years down the line, the bridge remains a killer spot.
The Sh1.4 billion road project stalled last year after the contractor halted works demanding Sh250 million from the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) for completed works before returning to site.
ADMO Construction Ltd Managing, Director Mohamed Adan, complained that despite raising several payment certificates, the government had declined to pay them.
Adan said that out of Sh1.4 billion contract sum, he had received a paltry Sh304 million from the government despite raising milestone certificates amounting Sh561 million.
Mulyungi lamented that although President Kenyatta had launched the construction of the Nuu-Nguni road, without the Enziu Bridge, it would have been less profitable to the locals.
“Although River Enziu is a water source to locals, the river has also claimed lives of locals and the call for a bridge is paramount,” Mulyungi said.
Kitui Governor, Charity Ngilu, has petitioned the National Government to expedite construction of a bridge across the killer river.
“It is unfortunate that we lose lives in this river every rainy season. The State must break the deadly cycle by casting a proper bridge across Enziu River,” she noted.
The County Chief vowed to henceforth pile pressure on the National Government until an initiative is taken to avert similar accidents in future.
Governor Ngilu also condoled with the bereaved families and affirmed her Administration’s commitment to help them navigate through the painful loss of loved ones.
By Yobesh Onwong’a