Accident in Kakuma Three
A humanitarian vehicle involved in an accident killing a secondary school student.
An ugly accident happened on 3rd November, 2015 at 18:35 hours in Camp Three. The misfortune occurred when a lorry belonging to UNHCR was making a wrong turn at high speed before thumping a motorcycle and killing a refugee student.
The deceased was identified as John Mathew Ochalla, a refugee of Ethiopian Anyuak origin who fled the Gambella region of Ethiopia in 2011, due to the land grabbing that forced him to seek safety in Kenya. He arrived in Kakuma in 2011 (registration number 3098662) and was enrolled in form one of Somali Bantu secondary school in January 2015. The school mourned Ochalla’s death. “We lost a very bright and polite student” Thomas, a school teacher, told KANERE.
At the time of the accident, the UNHCR lorry was in use by National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) – a church oriented organization which provides shelter to refugees. According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the vehicle was reckless and over speeding. “The lorry was taking a wrong turn at high speed when the accident happened” Obang, an eyewitness, told KANERE. “I saw the body of Ochalla lying beneath the wheel of the lorry, moments before he died,” he added.
Ojullu, who is a family member to the deceased, stated that he was notified of Ochalla’s death in the accident at 18:45 hours. “I arrived at the scene at 19:00 hours and saw Ochalla’s body lying dead,” he stated in disbelief.
According to refugee leaders, the humanitarian NGOs’ drivers routinely behave badly on the roads in the camp, neglecting other road users like motorcycles and pedestrians. “The NGOs’ drivers constantly behave like they’re the owners of these roads” said Malik, a leader in camp three. Additionally, Malik stated that many meandering roads pass within the camp settlements and there are no traffic regulations camp wide.
The driver of the lorry, an NCCK employee called Joseph, was briefly arrested in the evening of the accident and later freed. By the middle of January, the family of the deceased had not been able to record a statement with the police. Despite the family’s efforts, no legal action was offered over the offense. According to Ochalla’s relatives, no compensation or legal assistance has been offered by either the police or the UNHCR. In many cases, no legal action is taken in criminal cases involving refugees and a Kenyan national.
KANERE made an attempt to contact the NCCK camp official over the incident but the official did not responded to the press inquiry.
In mid – 2015, another accident involving two refugee motorists and an NGO land cruiser shocked many. The land cruiser (registration number KBX 284U) was in use by the Windle Trust organization which is active in the camp. Of the two refugee motorists, one died and the other survived despite sustaining serious bodily harm.