Diving on historic Cheploch Gorge in Baringo suspended over deaths

Daring youth have been leaping into the 70-metre-deep gorge to entertain tourists.

Tuesday January 19 2016

A man dives at the Cheploch Gorge on the border

A man dives at the Cheploch Gorge on the border of Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties. The Baringo County government has suspended diving at the historic site following the death of a diver. PHOTO | CHEBOITE KIGEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
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By FLORAH KOECH
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The Baringo County government has suspended diving in the historic Cheploch Gorge on the border of Baringo and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties following the death of a diver.

Daring youth have been leaping into the 70-metre-deep gorge to entertain tourists.

But concern is now being raised over the safety of the youth who earn a living from their antics, following the death of Bernard Kipkorir, 26, last week.

This came barely a month after the death of another diver.

According to witnesses, Kipkorir and his colleagues had quarrelled over the proceeds of their diving.

The divers are paid between Sh200 and Sh500 to entertain holidaymakers, who usually make stopovers on their way to famous tourist attractions in Baringo, including lakes Bogoria and Baringo.

“In a fit of rage, Bernard dived into the gorge. Unfortunately, he hit a tree trunk and lost consciousness.

“Efforts by his colleagues to resuscitate him failed,” a witness said.

On a good day, each member of the group, which comprises eight members, goes home with at least Sh2,000.

CROCODILE-INFESTED RIVER

Asked why they risk their lives in a crocodile-infested river, the daredevils said the reptiles are usually afraid of attacking them because of the frequent storms in the area.

“We have been diving for many years and we have discovered over time that crocodiles don’t attack when there are a lot of movements in the water,” said one of them.

County Tourism Chief Officer Samuel Kisia said the decision to suspend diving was aimed at curbing more deaths as security measures are put in place.

HOLD MEETING WITH LOCALS

“The suspension of diving will be in force even after the burial.

“The county government plans to hold a meeting with the local community to chart the way forward on using the resource safely,” said Mr Kisia.

The official regretted the death of Mr Kipkorir, saying it could have been avoided.

He warned local divers against engaging in careless behaviour that would expose them to danger.

Baringo County Police Commander Peter Ndungu said investigations into the latest incident had already been launched.

Leaders in the area, including Kabarnet Ward Rep Johana Chebon, had called for the suspension of diving until proper security measures are put in place by the two counties.

“We appreciate that diving is a source of livelihood for our jobless youth, but we have to put it on hold until the divers are assured of their safety,” he said.

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