Dead Modern Coast drivers 'were long-term friends'

Friday December 13 2019

Japhred Lucas Lukasile (left) and Moses Wanjala came from neighbouring villages. PHOTOS | COURTESY


Two Modern Coast drivers who died when their buses collided on the Mombasa-Nairobi Road on Thursday morning shared more than their date of death.

Moses Wanjala, 49, and 57-year-old Japhfred Lucas Lukasile came from neighbouring villages and were long-term friends.

Mr Wanjala hailed from Mukabakaba village that neighbours Lutali, both in Kakamega North Sub-County.

On Friday, villagers and relatives were coming to terms with the demise of the two, who had had a long experience on the road before the early morning crash in Kiongwani, Makueni County, that claimed seven lives and injured more than 60.


The buses collided on Thursday. The two bus drivers who perished in the road crash came from neighbouring villages in Kakamega, and frequently visited each other's homes. PHOTO | COURTESY

When the Nation visited the families, relatives of the two drivers were raising money to meet the post-mortem and funeral expenses.


The families said they did not understand what might have led to the fatal accident.

“We expected the Modern Coast company management to stand with the families following the tragedy but that has not happened,” Mr Wanjala’s aunt, Grace Isomi, said.


Ms Agnes Ongaya, the widow of Modern Coad bus driver Japhfred Lucas Lukasile, at her Lutali home in Malava on December 13, 2019. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Relatives said the driver had just competed building a permanent house and was preparing to move in with his family before end of this month.

According to the family, he had worked for Modern Coast Bus company for a year, mainly plying the Mombasa-Nairobi-Homa Bay route.

Mr Wanjala was heading to Mombasa when his bus collided with Lukasile’s.


Mourners console family members of Modern Coast bus driver Moses Wanjala at his Mukabakaba Harambee village home in Malava on December 13, 2019. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The two drivers knew each other very well and their paths often crossed as they headed to different destinations.

As fate would have it, they were killed on the same night when their buses collided.

Mr Wanjala’s distraught mother, Julia Museve Mwasame, could not hold back tears on learning of the death of her fifth-born son.

The elderly widow is battling cancer and has been making frequent visits to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, for chemo and radiotherapy.


Seven people were killed and 62 others injured after these two Modern Coast buses collided in Kiongwani along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway on December 12, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY

“He spoke to me on Wednesday and sent some money to settle the hospital bills. My son has been supporting me and the family a lot. I don’t know how long I will survive without him,” Mrs Mwasame said.

Mr Wanjala’s elder brother Peter Muchenje said the family is still in shock and struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

“My brother was generous, despite working as a driver and earning little. When I wanted to buy a vehicle, he asked me to send him the money. Wanjala made all the necessary arrangements for me,” Mr Muchenje said.

Mr Wanjala is survived by a widow and three children.

His first born is a student at Pwani University while his daughter is a Form Four student at Eregi Girls High School, Vihiga County.

Mr Wanjala was a long-distance truck driver for several years before joining Modern Coast company.

At Lutali village, close family members and relatives of Lukasile were inconsolable after learning of his death.


His widow Agnes Ongaya said he had visited the family on Monday and promised to return after the Christmas holidays. “When my husband came home, he was jovial. He had promised to buy his grandchildren school bags and presents for the new year,” the widow told the Nation.

Mr Nathan Museve, a relative of Lukasile, said the Modern Coast company management has not said a word to the families of the two drivers.

“We have taken the decision to raise money and send some family members to Mombasa to make preparations to have the body brought home,” Mr Museve said.

Years before his death, Mr Lukasile worked as matatu driver.


He was later recruited by Malava Boys High School as a driver and later joined Modern Coast company.

Meanwhile, the management of Modern Coast company met National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) officials Friday to have the decision to revoke the company’s operating licence revoked.

“In line with our commitment to full compliance of safety regulations, we have agreed to submit our buses for inspection by the authority from tomorrow,” the management said in a statement. The company added that it has made arrangements for its drivers to be trained afresh in a programme to be facilitated by NTSA.

“As a result of the above measures, we would like to notify our passengers that buses scheduled to operate between December 12 and 15 will not do so,” said the management.

It added that passengers who had booked tickets in that period have been notified that they would be refunded through M-Pesa starting Sunday.


“We sincerely apologise to the affected passengers for the inconvenience caused to their travel plans as we work on having our licence reinstated,” the statement added.

Modern Coast management promised to issue a complete statement on the accident once investigations are complete.