An Interdenominational Memorial service for the 48 victims of the Patel dam tragedy was today held at Solai AIC church, Nakuru County.
The event was led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto.
Several residents of Kabazi area in Solai were overcome with grief, with some fainting, during the prayers on Wednesday.
Red Cross officials had a hard time controlling those who were overwhelmed by grief.
“As Kenyans, we need to work hard and provide solutions to forestall such occurrences in future,” the president said.
Red Cross officials attend to mourners during interdenominational prayers for victims of the Patel Dam tragedy at Kabazi area in Solai, May 16, 2018. /BEN NDONGA
The leaders committed themselves to prevent similar tragedies occasioned by man-made water reservoirs.
Survivors and mourners recounted the horrendous events of the May 9 night when muddy torrents of water from a burst Patel dam swept through the sleepy Energy village, leaving 48 people dead and property worth hundreds of thousands destroyed.
President Uhuru reiterated government's pledge to fully support all victims of water-related calamities across the country.
The service, also attended by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Rachel Ruto, brought the country together in grief.
Mourners attend interdenominational prayers for victims of the Patel Dam tragedy at Kabazi area in Solai, May 16, 2018. /BEN NDONGA
Uhuru said the floods have caused havoc and destruction not only to the residents of Solai in Subukia, but also has affected residents of Tana River, Kilifi and Migori counties.
The President committed that the government will rebuild all schools which have been destroyed by the floods.
He further said the government would construct roads and provide water apart from other social amenities which have been destroyed by the current floods.
Last Saturday, the President announced an extra Sh1 billion to be made available to the Kenya Red Cross to continue with its relief work, in addition to the Ksh 1.5 billion already set aside for the purpose of assisting flood victims across the country.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret and DP William Ruto arrive for interdenominational prayers for victims of the Patel Dam tragedy at Kabazi area in Solai, May 16, 2018. /BEN NDONGA
Kenya Red Cross secretary general Abbas Gullet, speaking separately in Kilifi said the reconstruction work for the flood victims across the county could cost Sh100 billion,
He said the Sh1 Billion allocated by the President is a lot of money but a drip in the ocean due to the magnitude of the disaster.
The KRCS Secretary general said the recovery process could take even one year.
The unprecedented calamity in Solai also left three churches (PCEA Solai, Full Gospel, and Good Shepherd), and two schools flattened and uprooted electric polls cutting power in the area and hampering initial evacuation.
The President commended the residents of Solai and Nakuru County Government leadership for their prompt response which helped save many lives during the Patel dam tragedy.
“Your actions showed a true Kenyan spirit. Spirit of brotherhood, spirit of solidarity, we are indeed our brothers keeper,” the President.
Together with the clergy from various churches, the memorial service was attended by governors, senators and MPs from across the country where host Governor Lee Kinyanjui announced that all counties had agreed to donate Sh100,000 each to assist the Solai survivors.
The Council of Governors was represented by the CoG chairman Josephat Nanok.
Nakuru leaders led by their Governor paid a special tribute to the Administrator of a local (Solai) clinic, Mary Waruguru, who risked her life during the tragedy and single-handedly saved over 30 lives including a seven-month-old baby strapped on the back of her mother who had drowned.
President Uhuru also assured the residents of Solai and Subukia in general that his government would give them title deeds for their parcels of land.
“For over 40 years people have waited to get their title deeds. Even some have died while waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. I will return here soon to hand over to you those legal documents ensuring that you legally own your land,” he said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta arrives for interdenominational prayers for victims of the Patel Dam tragedy at Kabazi area in Solai, May 16, 2018. /BEN NDONGA
He also called on the county governments to partner with the national government, to ensure all Kenyans have access to quality healthcare by registering themselves with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
Deputy President William Ruto said Kenyans should always seek to provide solutions rather than apportion blame when tragedies occur.
“As Kenyans, we should ask ourselves what measures do we need to take to avoid such tragedies,” asked the Deputy President.
Adding: “ At such a moment we are likely to apportion blame, but what we should ask ourselves is what could each one of us done,”
He said the government is processing 1300 title deeds for the area residents noting that as per the President’s directive the government will pay stamp duty of the said titles.