Kenya, an ignorant nation?

Kenya, an ignorant nation?

The Monday, April 29 morning flash floods that swept four villages near the town of Mai Mahiu, 60 kilometers south of the country‘s capital Nairobi is nothing short of a devastating incident.

The 3 am tragedy was caused by water that had been collected over a long time by a blocked tunnel channeling water to River Tongi underneath the Nairobi – Kisumu railway line, therefore forming a ‘dam’ that was overcome by excess water.

I have spent the better part of the week collecting and disseminating news on how, when and the impact of the raging waters and as of Thursday, the number of fatalities has risen to above 50 with the number of people reported to be missing also more than 50.

But in my mission one thing struck my mind.

Was the Maai Mahiu tragedy a calamity in waiting? did the people know? Was an alarm sounded? Could deaths have been averted? These are just but a few questions running in mind after witnessing fast hand a clear picture of the aftermath by the waters that furiously swept anything and everything from the slopes of Kijabe hills.

Appalling in my information gathering process I had a series of narratives about the incident but one froze my mind, as early as Thursday last week, as told, a distressing appeal started moving round asking people downstream River Tongi to move to safer places.

As days went by and heavy downpour, streams and tributaries filled waters to the then dam-like structure that had formed collecting thousands of cubic meters of water, which eventually led to it bursting its banks.

Even on Sunday — the day before the tragedy — at the pulpit, gospel ministers had taken time to tell congregants to share lifesaving information of the awaiting tragedy. But did these all fall on deaf ears or is it just utter ignorance, a tradition by Kenyans?

The Mai Mahiu incident is not an isolated case of prior warning which Kenyans revert to ignoring.

Data from Interior Ministry says death toll occasioned by floods across the country has risen to over 150. But interestingly, viral videos are in circulation of Kenyans making dare devil attempts crossing swollen rivers and flooded places throwing caution to the window.

In my opinion, the fatalities occasioned by floods would have been much lower if Kenyans would take personal safety a little seriously.

‘Government this, government that, serikali haijafanya, ingefanya’. But taking care of your personal safety and being cautious should not be a government responsibility.

The government has issued numerous advisories, published them on all the popular public platforms, advising Kenyans on the guidelines to take into consideration in case of a flooding situation.

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