Home > Counties > Ten mourners die as church bus rolls at Josa blackspot in Mwatate

Ten mourners die as church bus rolls at Josa blackspot in Mwatate

Ten mourners perished while 25 others sustained critical injuries after a hired bus they had travelled in to attend a funeral at Wundanyi rolled severally at Josa area along the Wundanyi-Mwatate highway.

The injured are currently admitted at hospitals in Mwatate and Voi sub-counties.

Confirming the accident, Mwatate Police Boss Morris Okul said the tragedy occurred at around 8.30 pm with the bus carrying mourners losing control and rolling severally.

The mourners were going home to Likoni in Kwale County after attending a burial of a church member at Mghambonyi village in the hinterland of Wundanyi sub-county.

“We responded as soon as the accident was reported and rescued the injured. They were rushed to hospitals in Mwatate and Moi County Referral Hospital for treatment,” said the sub-county police commander.

Casualty data shows that amongst the dead were eight women and two men. Four survivors are admitted at Mwatate sub-county hospital and 21 including a child are currently recuperating at Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi. One of the survivors was later referred to Mombasa for specialised treatment.

The survivors at Moi County Referral Hospital who spoke to KNA recounted horror tales of screams of agony as dozens of passengers trapped under the bus cried out for help.

Mr Baraka Mrabu, one of the survivors, said they had come to bury a church member who had passed on in Likoni but whose home was in Wundanyi. It was while on their way back after darkness had fallen then the accident happened.

Though it had rained earlier on, Mr Mrabu accused the driver of being negligent and said the accident was avoidable. He narrated that the overconfident driver was unable to control the bus even after being warned that they were hurtling dangerously down the winding road.

Mr Mrabu added that after the brakes failed, the speeding bus rammed against a concrete block erected on the edge of a sharp bend. However, instead of lessening the momentum or stopping the bus altogether, the vehicle instead flipped over and rolled severally down the steep escarpment.

“The driver was overconfident. He could not listen even as we asked him to slow down. The bus rolled and stopped when we struck a tree somewhere down the hill,” he says.

Mr Mrabu, who sustained slight injuries, wriggled his way from under the wreck. He started pulling other passengers out of the mangled bus. His two sisters died on the spot while his brother, a pastor of their church who was also in the bus, is fighting for his life in Mwatate sub-county hospital.

Ms Aline Saru, another survivor, said she was awakened by the hideous noises of steel grating against steel as the bus rolled. She said though she was conscious enough to know their bus had an accident, her hands were paralyzed and could not move at all.

“My hands could not move no matter how much I tried. I wanted to move and look for my sisters who were somewhere on the bus,” she said.

County leaders led by Governor Andrew Mwadime visited the patients in the hospitals to condole with them. He hailed the quick response by the county medical team and teams that participated in the rescue operations. He said the county would look into how it could assist the patients either through waivers of hospital charges or other necessary support.

The governor disclosed that the county would engage Kenya National Highway Authority (KenHA) to change the road design and make the area safer owing to the frequency of the accident at the Josa blackspot.

“KenHA engineers must improve the road design. The corner is too sharp and has caused too many accidents,” he said.

The 18-km Wundanyi-Mwatate road is characterised by steep winding roads with several hair-pin bends that are a nightmare for drivers. The foggy conditions of the hills make it even more perilous for road users with the visibility along the narrow road being reduced to near zero.

The Josa area is a notorious blackspot with several accidents being reported in the past. In November last year, another bus carrying staff of a school in Mombasa, rolled and killed three mourners at the same spot. In 2019, a university student died when a Taita-Taveta University bus had an accident at the same spot after developing mechanical problems.

By Wagema Mwangi

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