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Likoni tragedy: A case for country on its knees and a people not angry enough

Editor’s Note: Our blogger today is Justus Kimari, a businessman and a free-thinker based in Nairobi. He gives his perspective on the Likoni ferry tragedy that claimed 2 lives of mother and daughter.

I have had a tough time since I learnt about the Likoni ferry tragedy Sunday evening where a woman; Mariam Kighenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu drowned at the Likoni Channel.

This is after their vehicle slid from the ferry midstream.

But even worse, the two have been lying in the chilly waters for over 48 hours now. I have asked myself very hard questions among them: Do we have a government? Is Kenya a failed state? Are our taxes being put into appropriate use?

Yesterday, on Tuesday, the worst news came that John Wambua, the husband of Mariam and father of Amanda had to fork out over 100K to private divers to commence the recovery exercise when we have government agencies like the Kenya Navy, the Kenya Coast Guards, Kenya Maritime Authority and the Kenya Ferry Services which are funded by taxpayers almost drove me bonkers.

The last time I boarded a ferry at the Likoni Channel about two years ago, I noticed the ferry was full of bouncers but who I later learnt had no diving skills.

During another incidence when a man threw himself into the waters, it took a man said to be a fisherman to save the chap who was held at the nearby police station.

Why would the KFS not have several trained divers on board every ferry? The issue of cost of training and recovery equipment doesn’t arise here for a parastatal that collects millions of shillings on daily basis.

It is simply a question of negligence.

There have been several accidents at the channel crossed by 300K people on daily basis but few measures have been put in place to check future occurrences or even to ensure there is rapid response when they happen.

For instance, during my several sojourns to the South Coast, I noticed the prow of at least one of the ferries was faulty and sheets of water washed onto the rustic iron plate.

How painful that the preparations for Mashujaa Day celebrations are going on not very far from the Channel where Mariam and her daughter sunk and met their end.

If Mariam had been a daughter of a prominent government official, would her body and that of her daughter still be lying in the depths of the ocean?

The truth is Mariam’s family is not known and therefore the matter of retrieving her body is neither a priority nor urgent.

Knowing this truth that fierce capitalism has driven Kenya to the point where one’s family name and connections matter the most even in death is so unsettling.

And this is something that should disturb the conscience of any right-thinking Kenyan with a sense of patriotism.

It is even more disturbing that we are not angry enough as Kenyans even as the actions of a few people continue to fuel the suffering of the majority.

The economy is failing; there’s massive layoffs and more people are living hand-to-mouth than ever before.

If we were angry enough, we’d be in the streets calling for the removal of all persons who have caused Mariam’s family long hours of agony and who are determined to drive the country to oblivion.

Opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position of We welcome writers and bloggers to become a part of our Blog network Send your opinion to [email protected]

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