Passengers stranded for hours in terror prone area over muddy road

KDF officers evacuating stranded passengers when a Tawakal bus they were traveling in got stuck in the mud on the Lamu- Garsen road in June this year./FILE

Lamu,KENYA:Bus passengers who were travelling from Lamu to Mombasa on the Lamu-Garsen road were forced to spend a night on the road after their bus got stuck in mud at Pangani area.

Pangani area is among areas listed by police as a terror hotpot having been used severally by Al shabaab militants to launch attacks on civilian and security vehicles plying the route.

The over 45 passengers of aboard the Tawakal bus had their journeys cut short after a police land cruiser that was escorting a convoy of buses rammed into the Tawakal bus from behind sending into straight into a muddy ditch where it got stuck.

According to some of the passengers, efforts by the bus driver and conductor to haul the bus from the mud were futile.

“We didn’t know what to do and stayed there from until 8pm,”said Rueben Githenji.

They were however lucky as KDF soldiers and GSU officers came to their rescue and evacuated them from the terror prone area to Witu town where they spent the night.

“We really don’t know what would have happened to us if we had been left to sleep in the bus on that road and at that particular spot.We are grateful to the KDF and the GSU for helping us.Even though we really didn’t have anywhere to sleep in Witu town but we were safer than we would have been on the road,”said Lucky Mwaka who had a 9 month old baby.

They were however provided with an alternative bus on Thursday morning and proceeded to their destination, albeit a day late.

The passengers have blamed the bus company for their laxity in addressing the situation when it happened and failing to make alternative arrangements for the passengers to continue with their journey even after it became apparent that the bus was stuck beyond redemption.

“We called their office numerously but nothing was done and time kept flying and we were just on the road.They knew very well that area has a history of terror attacks yet they still let us stay there for all those hours.Some of these bus companies need to be looked into.We are grateful to the KDF and GSU for their help,”said Suleiman Nangira.

Lamu county commander Muchangi Kioi confirmed the incident and added that plans were made to ensure safety of the all the passengers immediately they learnt of the situation.

“The situation was caused by a minor accident involving a police land cruiser and the bus but no one was injured.Our boys moved in to protect the passengers,”said Kioi.

Motorists and commuters plying the Lamu-Garsen route have on numerous occasions called on the government to pressure the contactor to speed up construction of the road to allow for ease of use.

A lot of time is wasted due to the many potholes and general pathetic dilapidated state of the road.

The Sh.10.4 billion tender was awarded to the H-Young company.