Emotions ran high on Saturday at Mgeno village in Mwatate during the joint requiem mass of seven victims who perished in a road accident at Taru area along Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
The tragedy that happened over a week ago claimed twenty lives and left the county devastated with religious and political leaders terming it as the worst ever accident in the region.
The requiem mass was held at Mgeno Primary School to accommodate the large number of mourners who had turned up to offer their condolences to the family. Cries of anguish and screams of pain lent the air as family members, relatives and friends received the bodies of their loved ones.
Hundreds of National Youth Service (NYS) personnel were deployed to the mass and assisted in carrying of caskets.
“This is one of the worst incidents we have had as a region. We pray God gives the families strength to cope with the loss,” said Ms. Margaret Mwaniki, Mwatate Deputy County Commissioner as she condoled with the family.
She further cautioned drivers against carrying excess passengers and speeding which was likely to end up with accidents that could easily be avoided.
The bodies received at Mgeno included those of Eunice Margaret’s, 31; Jardin Mkakina, 44; Mrizi Mghana, 59; Pricilla Mwawughanga, 42; Rose Mwakisha; 45; Ester Kambe 33 and Shantel Wanjala aged two years. Other victims of the accidents had been buried at Mwatunge and Wusi Kishamba area in Mwatate.
According to the police, the accident happened after the driver of the passenger vehicle attempted to overtake on a continuous yellow line. His vehicle collided head on with an incoming trailer. The driver, the conductor, 12 adult passengers and two children died on the spot. Two more adults and two children were confirmed dead after arrival at Mariakani sub-county hospital. The passengers were heading to a church event in Mombasa by the time of the accident.
Dozens of political leaders joined the mourners to offer their support to the affected families. They include Taita-Taveta Women Representative Lydia Haika, Senator Jones Mwaruma, Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime and Deputy Governor Majala Mlaghui.
Aspirants eyeing political seats flocked the event but were denied a chance to address the mourners. Those present were Dan Mwazo who is vying for governor’s seat under Wiper, Patience Nyange, governor’s aspirant with Narc-Kenya and Mwandawiro Mghanga who is eyeing senatorial seat under Communist Party of Kenya.
Women Representative Lydia Haika called for leaders to join hands to ensure the families left destitute by the tragedy were taken care of. She added that the orphans left should be offered full scholarship to ensure continuity of their education,
“We see these kinds of situations in other places but never thought it would happen here. We need to come together and take care of the children left behind,” she said.
The women representative further urged the residents that they should maintain peace during this time of politics.
Bishops and members of clergy called for more prayers to avert road accidents in the area. Taita-Taveta Bishops Association Chairperson Bishop Ronald Itambo claimed the number of accidents in the region went up when political season arrived.
The county government assisted in paying for the post-mortem of the victims while other leaders contributed money to offset the pending bills accrued by the families.
Mgeno residents eulogized the departed as strong pillars of the community. The area chief John Kambucha said some of the victims were members of the land subdivision committee who had been assisting the government in management of local issues.
“We have lost members of the lands committee who have been helping us to resettle the local residents,” he said.