By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
President Uhuru Kenyatta received the news of the death of 39 people in the tragic road accident in Naivasha with great shock and sorrow.
This is after he learnt that 11 members of his elite Recce Unit were among those who had perished in the grisly accident. The head of state is now quietly mourning the unfortunate demise of his elite bodyguards.
Shortly after the accident, a statement from State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said 11 General Service Unit (GSU) Officers who provide VIP security including to President Kenyatta were among the 39 people who perished in the Naivasha multiple vehicles accident.
“President Kenyatta wishes to express his condolences to the families of all the bereaved, including the young families of the gallant officers from the GSU. He also wishes all the injured quick recovery,” the statement said in part.
It added: “The President’s thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives. He joins all Kenyans in praying for the families of those who lost their lives. He joins all Kenyans in praying for the families affected, that they have the strength to overcome this tragedy.”
General Service Unit Officers who perished in the Naivasha tragedy were returning from Chebunyo in Bomet County, where President Uhuru Kenyatta had toured.
President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to the public as he enters Nyayo Stadium for the 53rd Jamhuri Day celebrations escorted by his new motorcade. Photo/PSCU
The accident which occurred on Saturday evening, December 10, in Karai on the busy Nairobi-Naivasha highway involved a canter and several other vehicles.
The canter which was carrying highly flammable fuel, lost control and burst into flames after hitting other vehicles. The vehicle is said to have not noticed a newly erected bump near Karai.
And while speaking during the 53rd Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta says roads authorities are to blame for accidents resulting from unmarked bumps on major highways in the country.
The president urged Kenya National Highways Authority to admit blame for failure to erect clear sign posts on bumps along Kenyan roads and also led the nation in .
He also urged all road users to be more careful especially this festive season as most Kenyans travel upcountry for Christmas celebrations.
The president’s announcement comes one day after the Naivasha fire tragedy that claimed 39 lives in an accident along the Naivasha- Nairobi highway involving a canter lorry of Ugandan registration number and 13 other vehicles.
Part of the huge crowd that attended the 53rd Jamhuri Day celebrations at Nyayo Stadium. Photo/PSCU
And the family of Constable Kevin Kibet Torongei, one of the 11 General Service Unit Officers who perished in the Naivasha tragedy, has said they learnt of the death of their kin on social media.
The family that hails from Trans Mara, Narok County, said they are yet to receive any communication on the officer’s death from the police or government.
“We only learnt of his death on WhatsApp. We saw his name among the list of GSU officers who died in the tragedy in our local WhatsApp group called “Trans Mara Massive,” said Mr Richard Torongei, a brother to the deceased.
Mr Torongei was heading to the scene of the accident at Karai along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway when the Nation called him on Monday morning.
He said it was sad that the government had not officially informed them of their brother’s death, more than 24 hours after the fatal incident.
“He was attached to State House and lived there. Despite dedicating most of his time to his job, the government has not bothered to inform us of his demise,” he said.
Mr Torongei, a former councillor, said he first heard of the tragedy on local television channels.
“I had not known that my brother was among the deceased. But I started getting anxious when I heard that some GSU officers attached to State House were among the casualties,” he said.
Constable Kevin Kibet Torongei, one of the 11 General Service Unit who died in the Naivasha tragedy. PHOTO | COURTESY
He said at around 10 am, he received condolence messages directed to his family on WhatsApp.
“It was very traumatising when I saw my brother’s name among the list of those who perished,” he said.
He said the entire family was shocked because they were not aware that Mr Kibet was in Chebunyo in Bomet County, where President Uhuru Kenyatta had toured.
“Our 70-year-ol mother is shocked. Especially because Kibet was just a few kilometers away from his rural home and did not even call to inform us that he was around,” he said.
The family lived in Njipship town, which is a few kilometres from Chebunyo.
The late Kibet was a teacher before joining the police in 2009. He is survived by a wife and two children.
He called on the government to have a proper communication channel to families of affected officers to reduce anxiety.
“It is only fair for affected families to get the right messages directly from the government instead of getting messages on social media,” he said.
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