Two drown while trying to cross illegally to Kilifi

A fibre boat and a canoe at the Kidongo beach along Mtwapa creek where two men died while trying to cross between Mombasa and Kilifi counties PHOTO JANET MURIKIRA

Two men have died after drowning while trying to cross illegally through the Mtwapa creek that acts as the border between Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

The two men are suspected to have drowned in different incidents over the past two weeks while being ferried using canoes between Mtwapa in neighboring Kilifi county and Kidongo beach in Kisauni sub-county.

This is according to the Bamburi location chief Jeremiah Machache who said the canoes that were ferrying the two victims capsized plunging them into the ocean.

“Most of the people who are engaged in the illegal business of ferrying people between Mombasa and Kilifi against the intercounty movement ban are not certified lifesavers so they are endangering their lives and those of their families,” Macache said.

The two canoe operators who were ferrying the two victims escaped and have since gone into hiding.

The bodies of the two men who are aged approximately 38 and 45 years were only recovered days after the incidents.

According to Mkalla Jefwa, an area resident, the second victim whose body has already been identified is suspected to have drowned on Sunday as his body was spotted floating in the area on Wednesday.

“ The first victim was crossing from Mombasa and his relatives were waiting for him on the Mtwapa side,” Jefwa told Baraka FM.

The directive issued by the government last month banning movement between Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 had given rise to the racket engaged in the illegal trade.

According to an area resident who requested anonymity, some area fishermen and residents from as far as Majaoni and Utange are involved in the ferrying charging up-to sh. 200 per person.

” A section of area residents who own farms in Mwakirunge and Kashani opt to use canoes as the road from Majaoni to Mwakirunge is impassable whenever it rains. The racket has been taking advantage of that and telling those they ferry to state that they are being ferried from Mwakirunge whenever they are caught by police and the community policing team” the area resident added.

On Thursday, Chief Machache warned that authorities were deliberating on closing down the Kidongo fish landing site accusing the area fishermen of aiding the thriving trade.

“ We have in past incidents arrested some of you aiding people to cross illegally between the two counties. If you don’t stop and report such characters whenever you see them, we are going to close down this landing site and we will not allow you to go on with your fishing activities” Chief Mochache warned during a meeting with area fishermen at the Kidongo beach.

Two weeks before the drowning incident, the son of an area fisherman was placed on forced quarantine after he was caught trying to aid a Congolese national cross to Mombasa from Kilifi county through the creek.

The Congolese national was turned back to Kilifi where he was placed on quarantine according to the chief.

The government is set to give further directives on the ban which expires on Saturday.