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Lack of rescue skills did not deter boda boda riders from saving lives

Tuesday November 15 2016
Boda Photo

Victor Mochama (left), Bivon Ogega (centre) and Abdul Omar work at the site of a collapsed building in Kisii on November 15, 2016. They are among 36 youths who worked round the clock with government agencies to ensure those trapped in the structure's rubbles were rescued. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ELGAR MACHUKA

There was nothing unusual with Bivon Ogero’s day.

He was, as usual, at Makutano boda boda stage in Kisii Town waiting for customers when he decided to ride around town in search of a passenger to kick-start his day as no one was coming his way.

As he rode past Daraja Moja-Daraja Mbili Road, something appeared to move. He turned and what he saw was shocking. He saw a tall building drop down like a house of cards.

If he thought he was dreaming, a deafening crash followed by a huge, rising cloud of dust confirmed that indeed, what he had seen was real.

A 10-storey building, envied by many had just come down. It was followed by wails from the injured crying for help.

People rushed towards the collapsed building.

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Ogero parked his motorbike outside a hotel and rushed to where the dust was coming from.

There was chaos and confusion, but that was overshadowed by the Good Samaritans who lend a helping hand.

Boda boda operators, among them Ogero, and retailers at the main matatu stage, located a few metres from the collapsed building, were the first at the scene.

PULL OUT

They used their hands to pull out those who were trapped.

“I could hear screams from the rubble and together with other volunteers who had arrived, started working to get them out,” he said.

It was a daunting task as they neither had skills nor appropriate equipment for rescue, but they did not mind as their only focus was to pull as many people as possible out of the rubble.

Another boda boda rider, Abdul Omar, was waiting for a customer when he heard a loud crash followed by a rising cloud of dust.

Although shocked at first, he rushed to the scene where he met the shock of his life. A huge rubble stared at him. People were wailing and crying. A crowd was ballooning. The injured were crying for help.

He quickly joined a group of volunteers trying to pull out those beneath. They succeeded as they pulled out the injured who were placed on boda bodas and rushed to hospital.

'WAS INSTINCTIVE'

“There was no time to think. I just thought of helping them. It was instinctive. I am happy to have assisted someone. We saved many people” he told the Nation on Wednesday.

Victor Mochama was also among the rescuers. Lack of disaster management skills did not deter him.

Being a pastor at the Kisii PAG Church nearby, Ronald Nyangwara knew it was his duty to help as soon as he got to the scene.

He used the little knowledge he had acquired during a seminar on disaster management three years ago.

“Small business owners, hawkers and boda boda operators were already on site and we decided to work together to get the people out while waiting for the county government to bring additional help,” said Pastor Nyangwara.

Brian Juma, together with the other volunteers, using hammers and chisels created a hole at the back of the building where they penetrated into the rubble to look for survivors.

“The front side was badly damaged and we could not get a point of entry so we opted for the back of the building which was more intact compared to the front and had a lesser risk of further collapse,” he said.

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