A somber mood engulfed residents of West Pokot County on Tuesday during the requiem mass of over 50 people at Makutano stadium who perished in the landslides and floods that happened three weeks ago in three villages of Muino, Parua and Nyarkulian. The service was held for the 25 identified bodies while 18 bodies are yet to be identified. The bodies will be transported for burials in different villages.
The grieved families and locals in the area turned up in large numbers for the mass. The prayer mass was conducted by Kitale Diocese Bishop Maurice Crowley, Anglican Church Kapenguria Parish Bishop Samson Tuliapus and other religious leaders from other denominations.
However, the prayer service delayed for some hours after heavy rains disrupted and it started at 11 am.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, area Governor John Lonyangapuo, Energy Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Simon Kachapin, Devolution PS Micah Powon, West Pokot members of parliament David Pkosing (Pokot South), Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), Mark Lomunokol (Kacheliba) and West Pokot woman representative Lilian Tomitom were in attendance.
Kitale Catholic Diocese Bishop Maurice Crowley encouraged the bereaved families to have hope despite the heavy loss. The Bishop also encouraged the survivors saying they still have a bright future ahead of them.
According to the West Pokot County government, 16 people are still missing. The calamity left more than 10,000 people displaced, who are now camping at Nyarkulian, Lolwei primary schools and some areas in Muino and Parua.
Affected families who spoke at the event petitioned the government to help them recover the missing bodies. “Our hearts will not be relieved if we shall not bury our loved ones,” said Julius Kedisha, a survivor.
Pokot South Sub County Deputy County commissioner Fredrick Kimanga said that the government will continue giving support to affected families.
Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare floods and landslides a national disaster, “Many people in many parts of the country have been affected,” he said.
He urged President Kenyatta to postpone the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative and use the funds to help affected people.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa also affirmed the government’s commitment to support the affected families.
On his part, West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said that there is a need to offer civic education on disasters. He asked the Kenya National Highways Authority to help repair roads and bridges in the area.