Team sent to Lamu to protect stuck passengers - Daily Nation

Team sent to protect passengers stuck in Lamu terror hotspot

Sunday May 6 2018

Noah Mwivanda

Coast regional police boss Noah Mwivanda. Mr Mwivanda on May 6, 2018 said a special team has been deployed to Lamu to protect passengers stuck on the badly damaged and dangerous Lamu-Garsen Road. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MOHAMED AHMED
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By KALUME KAZUNGU
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A special security team has been deployed in Lamu to man the terror-prone Lamu-Garsen Road that has been damaged by heavy rains.

The special multi-agency team has been sent to the ground to protect motorists and passengers who are stuck on the dangerous road.

A culvert was submerged at Milihoi, leaving passenger buses stuck and travellers fearing for their lives at the area which is a hotspot for terror attacks.

Last year, insurgents attacked passenger buses and police vehicles.

“We understand that the road is so bad now because of the ongoing rains. We have really managed to counter terror insurgency this year as to that effect we have sent the special teams on the ground,” said Coast Regional Police Commander Noah Mwivanda.

Raging floods on Saturday forced more than 200 passengers who were travelling to Mombasa and Malindi on the road to cut short their journey.

An earlier convoy of more than five passenger buses was held up in Milihoi for over an hour.

DELAY

The bus operators complained over delay on the tarmacking of the road that has remained unpaved since independence despite President Uhuru Kenyatta launching construction works last March.

The bad state of the road has made it easy for the terrorists to plant explosives.

“We need a speedy construction of this road. Lives are in danger and its becoming uncomfortable to stay for all those hours on the road. The way vehicles are sliding with this rain, we can only count days to when the first accident will be reported,” said Tawakal Bus conductor Mr Swaleh Said.

Mr Hassan Salim of the Mombasa Raha Bus Services plying the Lamu-Garsen Road said they now have to drive slowly, meaning passengers always arrive late at their destinations.

“The rainy season has contributed to too much delays on our roads. The normal speed is 80km/hour but we do 40 or even less because of the state of the road. A journey that should take less than six hours on a good road now takes up to eight or nine hours or worse. It is now worse because of the rains. We need urgent interventions,” said Mr Salim.

ATTACKS

A passenger, Mr Ishaq Khatib, questioned why the road has taken long to be tarmacked.

“We all know how many people died due to attacks by Al-Shabaab, you can imagine what goes through people’s minds when we get stuck here. If this road was smooth and tarmacked we wouldn’t even have to worry. In fact, there would be less terror attacks here,” said Mr Ishaq.

The tender for the construction of the road was awarded to H Young Company.

Meanwhile, Mr Mwivanda urged bus drivers to comply with instructions to have their vehicles escorted for security purposes.

“We want to ensure that the buses move as a group because that is a convoy under a single escort team. We cannot afford to have people operate on their own yet we have clear instructions over the same,” said Mr Mwivanda.

This is after some motorists accused the police manning the road blocks over harassment and delays.

On December 21, 2014, the government issued a directive that all passenger vehicles plying the Lamu-Mombasa Road to travel in convoys under armed police escort after several Al-Shabaab attacks on public service vehicles and security vehicles that left hordes of civilians and security officers dead.

In June 2017, the government ordered a crackdown on all passenger vehicles travelling without police escort and also those travelling at night.

Mini buses, however, continue to openly flout the directive and have been operating without police escort.