Baraka Karama and Enock Amukhale @PeopleDailyKe
Tears and sorrow engulfed Amalemba grounds in Kakamega county as relatives and friends gathered for a funeral service in honour of 29 victims of last week’s Fort Ternan road accident.
Emotions ran high as bereaved families paid last respects to their loved ones.
The pain of the untimely demise of their loved ones was just too heavy to bear after viewing the bodies at the county referral hospital mortuary.
And as the convoy of 29 hearses snaked through the streets of Kakamega town from the mortuary, a sombre mood ruled the air.
The popular Luhya dirge luwere luwere ( it is finished”) blared from the speakers of one of the vehicles that was leading the convoy to Amalemba grounds.
From a distance, the residents stared in shock with sadness written all over their faces. The tragic road accident, one of the worst in the country’s history, claimed 58 lives.
For close to eight hours, a sombre mood engulfed the service as the clergy said special prayers for the departed souls.
Choir members from different churches sang dirges to comfort the bereaved. Among the 29 coffins were five members of one family and three children who died during the accident.
Henry Munala, a relative of one of the victims said: “We are still in shock but we have to accept because it’s God’s plan.” Mzee Joan Luseno, who lost his last born son, urged the government to impound overloading vehicles.
“It is normal for buses coming to Western Kenya from Nairobi to speed and overload. Police are just there watching and take no action,” he said.
Wyclife Amutabi, who lost his wife in the accident said: “ I had planned to build her a new house this December but that has not come to pass instead I am going to dig her grave”.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, his Kericho counterpart Paul Chepkwony, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, senators Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) and Moses Wetang’ula(Bungoma) joined the mourners in the special service.
Others were MPs Bunyasi Sakwa (Nambale), Benard Shinali (Lurambi) former Senator Boni Khalwale and a host of Members of County Assembly from Kakamega and Vihiga counties.
Later, the convoy with caskets bearing the remains of the victims left the venue to their respective homes where burial will be held on Friday and Saturday. The victims will be buried in Shinyalu, Lurambi, Navakholo, Ikolomani and Lugari constituencies.
The leaders, who spoke during the service, demanded the arrest and prosecution of the police officers who were on duty on the day the accident occurred.
Lurambi MP Titus Khamala and Malala said it is unfair for police to arrest the owner of the ill-fated bus Cleophas Shimanyula and leave the police officers who allowed the defective and over loaded bus to pass the road blocks they were manning at night.
Khamala accused police officers of corruption. “We want to see all traffic police officers who were on duty prosecuted. The law should not be applied selectively,” said Malala.
The MPs also threatened to push for the resignation and arrest of Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet for failing to instill sanity in the traffic department.
Wetang’ula decried that the traffic laws which were started and enforced by former minister John Michuki have be en ignored turning roads into slaughterhouses.
Mudavadi said it is sad to see Kenyans die on the roads as if there are no laws governing the traffic operations. He said losing 58 people in one day in not something that should be taken lightly saying heads must roll.
He said accidents are claiming lives of many Kenyans than diseases. “It is sad to lose more than 58 people in one day in a road accident that could have been avoided,” said the former deputy premier.
Mudavadi said offsetting funeral expenses by the government is not enough but it should ensure families of the victims are fully compensated.
Chepkwony asked the government to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the actual cause of road accidents.
He said the government should use to commission to find out what are the major causes of the road accidents and look for lasting solutions.
Oparanya asked families to avoid traveling in one vehicle to avoid cases where all people of the same family perish in accident.