Kitui river bridge has rugged edge, driver was unfamiliar with route – Deputy Governor

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The Deputy Governor of Kitui County Dr. Wathe Nzau says the deaths of at least 18 people, who drowned in the area on Saturday morning, could have been avoided.

Nzau says the driver of the bus ferrying the passengers was unfamiliar with the route, and attempted to steer the vehicle on an overtopped bridge, which had a rugged part.

It is at this broken part that the bus lost control, and plunged into River Enziu, killing 18 on the spot.

The bus, which had at least 30 members of Mwingi Catholic Church, was heading towards Nuu from Mwingi Town.

“There’s a part on the bridge that has an irregular edge. If you look at the video circulating on social media, you’d see the vehicle tilting over on the left side of the bridge near the abutment that connects the bridge to the land on Nuu side. It appears the driver wasn’t aware that the edge on the abutment was partly washed away,” the deputy governor told The Standard.

Nzau said the “bridge had caused several tragedies in the past”, and that the National Government had pledged to build a stronger overpass.

According to the deputy county chief, the deaths would have been avoided had the driver exercised patience.

“I wish he’d have waited for the water to subside before driving over the bridge,” he said.

Asked on what the county government would do to avert such incidents in the future, Nzau said the Charity Ngilu-led administration will, moving forward, install a centre for emergency response near River Enziu.

“That’s what we can do for now, because the bridge can’t be repaired during this wet season,” he said.

Eighteen (18) people were confirmed dead in the 11am accident.

Ten (10) of the passengers were rescued, Mwingi East Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Yakan said

The bus had at least 30 people on board, when the accident occurred at Ngune Village in Mwingi Central.

The 30-plus victims were choir members of Mwingi Catholic Church, and were travelling to Nuu area from Mwingi Town.

Police said the choir members were heading for their male colleague’s wedding.

Yakan said The Standard that the driver of the bus attempted to steer the vehicle past a flooded bridge, but the water tides were too strong, consequently sweeping the bus into the river.

Some of the passengers could be seen screaming and raising their hands through the windows as the bus sank gradually.  

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