Barely two weeks after West Media highlighted beckoning disaster at ‘Kiwanja Ndege’ bridge which hangs precariously across River Kipkaren in Lugari Sub County another life has been lost after a 15-year-old girl slipped from the dangerous bridge and drowned.
The death of Phanice Olisa who was a form one student at Lumama primary school brings the total number of victims to three who have died while attempting to cross the river using the bridge that connects Lugari and Chekalini wards.
According to deceased’s father Mr. James Lawi Mangala his four children were going for a church service in the neighbouring Chekalini location when his elder daughter met her demise. “My four children, three daughters and a son, were heading for a church service in Chekalini when my first born daughter slipped and drowned in the raging waters,” said Lawi.
He said when the children reached the river they decided to cross orderly as they usually do, adding that the last born was the first to cross over successfully and was followed by the elder sister as the other two waited but unfortunately on reaching the middle of the crossing she slipped and when she tried to hold on one of the side ropes, the bridge overturned and she fell into the water.
According to Mr. Dickson Wasilwa who witnessed the incident, it would have been more disastrous had he not quickly intervened to stop the other two children who were ready to jump into the water to save their sister who was crying for help as she was being whisked by the river. “The two children who were waiting on this side wanted to dive into the river to save their sister who was calling for help before I quickly intervened to assure them that their sister would be saved eventually,” said Wasilwa.
The search for her body has been thwarted by heavy rains being witnessed in the region. Mr. Lawi has appealed for help from a team of expert divers to assist in the search and retrieve the body from the river.
Residents have appealed to leaders who including Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, Lugari ward Member of County Assembly Musa Wangila Makhapila and his Chekalini counterpart Kenneth Indusa to assist in rehabilitating the bridge.
They lamented that communication has been inhibited for thousands of residents adding that the situation was affecting business between the two sides as the majority of traders depend on the bridge to cross over to neighbouring regions.
Also there are hundreds of children from Lugari who use the bridge to access their schools which include Mwivona and Mulwanda primary and Chekalini polytechnic in Chekalini ward while others cross over from Chekalini to go to Kiwanja Ndege primary in Lugari