•Due to tidal changes in the Indian Ocean, boat accidents have increased resulting in the loss of unknown value of property after boats capsized.
•Lives have been lost at sea following delays in response, search and rescue from a locally assembled team of divers.
Lamu county leaders have called for the creation of a marine search and rescue centre following increased boat accidents.
Due to tidal changes in the Indian Ocean, boat accidents have increased resulting in the loss of unknown value of property after boats capsized.
Despite the worrying statistics, Lamu doesn’t have an outfit in place to help marine accident victims.
Lives have been lost at sea following delays in response, search and rescue from a locally assembled team of divers whose operations are largely plagued by a lack of technical and financial support.
Lamu Deputy Governor Abdulhakim Aboud said the lack of an active disaster response mechanism has cost more lives than the accidents.
According to the county fisheries and transport departments, at least 15 people die from marine accidents in Lamu yearly.
August registered the highest number of marine incidents with seven deaths and 12 boats capsized.
The deputy governor said a fully equipped search and rescue facility will facilitate prompt rescues and save lives.
In line with the Lamu port, Aboud said such a facility is a must-have due to the increased number of people shuttling between the port and various islands and also the mainland where its located.
“Such a facility it will improve our water transport infrastructure including maritime communications, navigation aids and inland waterways. This will reduce the frequent deaths and property loss,” Aboud said.
Lamu County Beach Management Units chairperson Mohamed Somo said it takes at least ten hours for rescue boats in Lamu to arrive at the scene of an accident and most often when people have already died.
Most of the time, the victims have to fight it out on their own and either succeed or die while at it.
“Such a facility calls for fast rescue boats and trained crew who must be on standby for 24 hours daily to conduct fast searches and rescue when a distress call comes in,” Somo said.
In August 2017, ODM politician Shekuwe Kahale lost his entire family after their boat capsized at the Mkanda channel.
It took days for the rescue team to locate, the politician who was the only survivor of the accident on a lone island in the region after hours of swimming.
The politician narrated how he tried holding onto his children for over eight hours until they started slipping away from his grasp, one after the other and drowned.
In most cases, rescues are conducted by fishermen and local divers.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris