Lodwar district accident claimed 36 lives while at least 84 others incurred severe injuries; refugees still await compensation from the Eldoret Bus Company.
On Saturday 24 Sep 2011, along Kakuma –an Eldoret company bus dashed off Lodwar road at Nasiger killing 36 passengers. At least 84 other people wer injured terribly. The accident happened at 5:30PM as the bus approached Lodwar. The bus, which was traveling from Kakuma to Lodwar – Kitale – Nairobi routes, hit a pot hole before it overturned and rolled. The front tires ran out while the vehicle was in motion causing casualties. “They were running in bad speed, they rolled several times before landing on the roof,” said a survivor.
UNHCR made arrangements to collect and transport the bodies to Kakuma 2 grave yard, where they were buried at 16:30PM the following day. At the Lodwar District hospital the police issued an abstract for all the dead bodies to families and UNHCR staff.
Survivors report that the bus was speeding even though the roads are in poor condition. “The bus was speeding and overloaded at the time of the accident, that was what I can recall,” said Tura an Ethiopian refugee.
According to the Red Cross rescue team, which was first to arrive at the scene, the accident was the worst of the season. The official stated that the front tires of the vehicle separated and the body was extensively damaged. “The bus was overloaded and some passangers were standing when the accident happened,” added a Sudanese woman
According to a reliable source, two doctors and one nurse from International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Kakuma were sent to Lodwar District hospital to aid in emergency response following the accident. Seven refugees were referred to Nairobi for further treatment.
Nasiger has already been marked as a dangerous spot. A number of vehicles have been involved in accidents on that route due both to negligence and to traffic. On the 29th of January at about 14:45Pm, the rear right tire of a Kenyan Police security vehicle burst upon reaching Nasiger center along Lodwar – Kakuma highway. The driver lost control after the tire burst, and the vehicle hit a tree resulting in serious damage. The vehicle was returning from Kitale where it had escorted a UNHCR official.
According to a report from local authorities, the vehicle had several passengers mainly police officers including Kakuma based humanitarian staff who had been offered a lift from Kitale. Five police officers sustained body and limb injuries and three passengers were transported to the Lodwar District Hospital for first aid and treatment. Seriously injured victims were evacuated to Nairobi by a police aircraft on Monday, 30January 2012. Three other staff members from Kakuma humanitarian organizations were also involved.
Seven refugee families with family members among the 36 casualtiess are still waiting to be compensated with assistance from the UNHCR Sub – Office Kakuma and the Kakuma court. The cases will be heard in a Kenyan court which will determine what amount of compensation will be made to the families of deceased person and to injured persons as defined under Kenyan Law.
On 16 Dec 2011 all refugee families of victims were informed in a meeting by the UNHCR official that the cases could be brought before the court in January 2012. This has not happened yet and the refugees are still waiting.