Migaa crash bus was faulty and was speeding, survivors say

Monday January 1 2018

Migaa on Nakuru-Eldoret highway

Volunteers console a relative of one of the victims who perished at Migaa on Nakuru-Eldoret highway after a bus hit a truck on December 31, 2017. Survivors have said that the bus was speeding and seemed faulty before it crashed. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By REITZ MUREITHI
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Words cannot describe the pain that Ms Phoebe Achieng felt after she learnt that her husband and three children had died in the tragic road crash at Migaa in Salgaa on Sunday morning.

Ms Achieng, a survivor in the horrific crash said she could not trace one of her sons.

The mother of four boys was travelling with her family from Kisumu to Nairobi when the bus they were in rammed a truck, killing 36 people.

Her children aged two months and two years old were pronounced dead on arrival at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, while her husband and one son died on the spot.

“My family and I had travelled to my husband’s maternal home in Kisumu for the Christmas holiday. We had hoped to travel back to Nairobi on Sunday in order to prepare the children for the schools’ opening day on Tuesday,” said Ms Achieng while fighting back tears.

The family had boarded the ill-fated bus at around 9pm and had left Kisumu at 11.30pm on Saturday.

SPEEDING

Ms Achieng said the driver of the bus had been speeding, prompting the passengers to insist that he slows down.

“At 2.40 am the vehicle started producing fumes from the front and a smell of the brake fluid filled the bus. Shortly after, the bus started meandering on the road and that was when it rammed into the oncoming truck,” recalled Ms Achieng.

As shock and confusion set in, Ms Achieng said she saw her three sons and her husband on the floor of the bus, but could not help them as she was holding the two-month old baby.

“I managed to drag myself out of the wreckage with the baby who was still alive at the time, but covered in blood. It was when we arrived at the hospital that I learnt I had lost the rest of my family,” she said.

SURVIVORS

According to Ms Teresia Mungai, a nursing officer at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, twenty eight survivors were received at the hospital.

Out of the twenty eight, twenty three people were admitted with serious injuries on the head, chest and limbs.

“Three children aged two months, two years and ten years were pronounced dead on arrival while one man died while receiving treatment at the ward. One man was discharged,” said Ms Mungai.

Another survivor, Mr George Owuor, said the bus had appeared to be faulty from the beginning of the journey.

FLAGGED DOWN

Mr Owuor, who was sitting behind the driver, said traffic police officers had flagged down the vehicle at a road block, about thirty minutes before the crash occurred.

“The police officer asked the driver why the vehicle was swaying on the road but the driver said he had just hit a bump and insisted that the vehicle was in a good condition,” he said.

Mr Owuor had travelled to Kisumu with his brother to attend a friend’s burial ceremony.

While agreeing with his sentiments, Mr Kevin Omondi, a passenger in the bus, said it appeared the driver was aware that his vehicle was faulty as he avoided accelerating.

“My two cousins and I kept asking him to stop the vehicle and fix it before proceeding with the journey but the driver ignored our pleas,” a distraught Mr Omondi said.

ALLOWED TO PROCEED

He said he was happy when the traffic officer stopped the vehicle, but his relief was short-lived as the police officer allowed the bus to continue with its journey.

“If the officer could have stood his ground and forced us to alight from the bus, that accident could not have happened,” he said.

Mr Kepha Wanga, who was lucky to come out of the wreckage alive, said the bus started hitting bumps at the Total junction but completely lost control from the General Service Unit camp from Sachangwan to the scene of the accident.

He said he bumped his head on the roof of the bus and on waking up found the passengers asking the driver to stop the vehicle, but the driver ignored their pleas.

LOST CONTROL

“Before we rammed into the truck, the driver had managed to avoid hitting other vehicles on the highway but lost control as we manoeuvred the steep descent from Sachangwan,” said Mr Wanga.

At the same time, 10-year-old Agnes Achieng found herself stranded at the hospital after she was separated from her father after the crash.

Achieng said her father, Simeon Oyaya, was a preacher and that she had accompanied him to a church mission in Nyakach, Kisumu County.

“My father had told me to sleep in the bus and when I woke up in the hospital I could not find him,” said a shocked Achieng.

Volunteers from the Kenya Red Cross have set up a tracing desk at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital on the casualty section, to aid friends and relatives in finding their loved ones.