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October 19, 2018

No one will be spared in Fort Ternan crash probe

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji last night ordered a thorough investigation into the Kericho bus tragedy to determine who was responsible for the 58 deaths.

He said the investigation will cover all government agencies charged with ensuring road safety, as well as vehicle owners. Haji said it would determine "the persons who may have, through acts of commission or omission, contributed either directly or indirectly" to the deaths on Wednesday.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet yesterday said traffic police manning the route of the overloaded bus will be severely punished.

Boinnet said investigations were underway into the the Fort Ternan accident and officers who let the bus pass will be disciplined.

“I am finding out who was on duty. I want to take to task any officer who allowed that bus to continue with the journey with all those faults. We do not compromise on anybody making mistakes of that type. We will exact very serious punishment,” Boinett said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Read;Only 17 bodies in Fort Ternan crash identified as death toll hits 56

 The Home Boyz bus was overloaded with 71 passengers instead of 62, it had no night travel permit and was speeding when elderly driver lost control. The bus rolled several times, tumbling into a steep valley below the he Londiani-Muhoroni road.

The owner of the bus and the sacco manager were arraigned yesterday

Bus owner Cleophas Shimanyula and Benard Shitiabai, the manager of the Western Crossroads Express Sacco, appeared in a magistrate’s court in Molo. They did no take a plea after police requested to detain them while they investigate.

The magistrate deferred the ruling on the application to today, saying he needed time to go through both parties' submissions.

National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) director general Francis Meja yesterday said the bus's poor body construction could have contributed to the many fatalities. The roof was ripped off as the bus rolled downhill.

Meja said more than 100,000 buses have substandard body construction because they were built before the authority drafted new construction standards.

Read: [VIDEO] Death toll in Fort Ternan crash in Kericho climbs to 50

The body work specifications came into effect on May 22, 2017, and there is a seven-year grace period for all PSVs to comply.

“For them to comply, the bodies must be completely stripped and built afresh," Meja said. "However, in light of what we have seen and the continuous loss of life, we can revisit this," with a view to shortening the grace period, he said.

Many buses use lorry chassis and put the body on top.

The standards require all metal inside the bus to be smooth, without sharp edges, so passengers are not cut and injured during an accident.

They also require roll bars fitted inside the body, making it difficult for the canopy to collapse and protecting the heads of passengers.

Seats are supposed to be secured to the chassis, not the body. Doors are to be side enough to allow easy entry and exit.

A family from Navakholo constituency, which lost five members in the crash, is appealing for help from the government and well-wishers to fund the burial of their loved ones.

Joseph Munala, 60, lost his son Roston Munala, 33; his (Roston's) wife Catherine Mutonyi and their two daughters Levis Lomen (Class 1) and Vera Ndiona. Munala also lost his granddaughter Asha Dalina.

His niece Jerusa Anyera is admitted at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital with a broken spine.

The family was travelling aboard the Home Boyz bus for the burial of their grandmother, Pelinah Tsaboka, set for tomorrow.

“I became anxious when by 9am they had not arrived," Munala said, sobbing. He said that by 10am his brothers set off to Kericho after learning through the radio that a Kakamega-bound bus was involved a fatal accident in Kericho .

"When they got there, they called and informed us that Roston and his family had been killed,” he said.

"I was speechless because Roston is the one who bought the cow we have slaughtered for the burial of his grandma and I did not know that he himself would need a funeral."

Read: Public outrage as Kenyans demand action after Ternan crash

Munala and his wife Elemina described Roston as being “everything” to them and appealed to the government and well-wishers to help them give their family a decent send-off.

Roston is the second last born in a family of five sons and three daughters.

“We’re overwhelmed by what I am seeing. The government must rein in vehicle owners who fail to obey traffic rules. How long shall we continue losing lives? I don't know how these bodies will come here and how they will look," Elemina said.

The mood was grave in Navangala village, Mukulusu sublocation in Shinyalu constituency. Villagers were mourning a young family — father, mother and five-year-old boy — who perished.

Caleb Mambili Mukoshi, 27, was travelling with his wife Lucy Kemunto, 26, and their son Zedekiah Ambani to attend the funeral of his uncle Jacob Shilosio in rural.

Caleb's mother, Florah Luseno, said Caleb had called her while still in Nairobi to say he would be travelling with his whole family to attend the funeral. She was to expect them on Wednesday morning.

They never arrived.

Read:Fort Ternan crash: Bus lacks night travel license, NTSA blames court for lifting ban

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