Govt suspends operations of private speed boats

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Two bodies were retrieved on Monday morning, as search and rescue operations continue.

The government has suspended operations of private speed boats in the flooded Kona Punda area of the Tana River following the tragic accident at Mororo in Tana River County.

Two bodies were retrieved on Monday morning, as search and rescue operations continue nearly 24 hours after the accident that occurred yesterday.

Garissa township sub-county deputy commissioner Duncan Rono added that 23 passengers were rescued, six were reported missing and 13 were still unaccounted for.

The accident, he stated, occurred as a result of negligence by the members of the public who were risking crossing the flooded Tana River after the government closed the road and declared the routes unsafe for pedestrians.

Other than suspending the private boats, Rono also stated that the government was pursuing the unlicensed owner of the Sunday accident, who was still at large.

"We have good leads on the boat owner suspected to be from Lamu County. He is on the run but we will apprehend him," Rono promised.

Members of the public at the scene in Mororo, Tana River County, where a boat capsized on April 28, 2024. (Photo: Abdimalik Hajir)

He further urged members of the public to be patient and suspend their travel plans to Garissa, Mombasa, or Nairobi until the water level subsides.

Garissa Governor Nathif Jama termed the boat tragedy unfortunate and urged members of the public to avoid putting their lives at risk. He also called for the apprehension of the boat operator, whom we said was unlicensed based on records provided by his county and the neighbouring Tana River.

"They are criminals driven by greed. They had no regard for the safety of the public. We call upon the government to immediately apprehend them," the governor pleaded.

He also blamed the Kenya National Highway Authority (KenHA) for neglecting the section of the Garissa-Nairobi highway that was destroyed by the El Nino rains.

"How come this road was not repaired for all that duration? Why put only sand in it when they know it can easily be swept?" he wondered.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company, KenGen, was also not spared, as the governor blamed it for negligence and not finding a lasting solution to the continuous release of water from the mega dams, attributed to floods in various regions.

"These waters can be diverted with the creation of more other dams where they can be released into without haphazardly destroying lives and livelihoods," Nathif lamented and called for an urgent and permanent solution to end flooding.

At Mororo, where the tragedy occurred, the area member of county assembly, Mohamed Ali, said families were living on the roadside with no shelter or food support.

"We have no place to shelter at Mororo. The whole town is flooded and houses and institutions are totally submerged," Mohamed stated.

He appealed for urgent intervention and the establishment of camps at the neighbouring Garissa town, which was already hosting internally displaced persons from Bakuyu and Ziwani in Tana River County.

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