NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 — President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a condolence message to the family of a 35-year-old mother and her 4-year-old daughter who drowned in the Indian Ocean on September 29, after a station wagon they were occupying slid off a ferry at the Likoni channel during a routine crossing.
The bodies of Mariam Kigenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu were retrieved at about 4.30 pm on Friday when search teams pulled out the wreckage from the ocean, 13 days after the tragedy.
The day-long exercise was undertaken using a crane and several boats.
The bodies were transferred Jocham Hospital Mortuary as burial arrangements kicked in.
In his message to the family and the spouse of Mariam, John Wambua, President Kenyatta said efforts were being made to ensure the safety of ferry operations and that similar incidents do no occur in the future.
“The proposed Likoni Gate Bridge, the ongoing construction of the Dongo Kundu by-pass as well as the completion of the Samburu-Kinango-Kwale road will help ease the pressure on sea crossing between Mombasa Island and South Coast,” reads the statement issued by State House Spokesperson, Kanze Dena.
Kenyatta further lauded a multi-agency team comprising of the navy, South African divers and the Southern Engineering Company Limited for working tirelessly to retrieve the bodies.
The President pledged to support the mourning family.
“I have closely followed the search and retrieval exercise over the last 13 days, and I commend the multi-agency team for their relentless efforts in ensuring long, tedious and risky undertaking was a success,” he adds.
Locals had earlier on accused the government of taking too long to retrieve the vehicle even after Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna assured that it was to be brought out on Thursday.
The vehicle, a Toyota ISIS, slid off ferry MV Harambee ferry on the evening of September 29, in what exposed inefficiencies and security risks in the ferry operations.
Witnesses said there was no attempt by any emergency team to rescue the two occupants who downed, with onlookers watching helplessly as the vehicle sank.
Prior to the retrival of the wreckage and bodies on Friday, Oguna had said on Wednesday the divers had sighted the vehicle adding efforts were being made to carefully retrieve the car with the bodies of the victims intact.
“We had high hopes that the car would be retrieved by the end of today (Thursday) evening. However, the high speed under currents made it impossible to tie the vehicle and pull it up,” said Oguna.
“We have confirmed that there are bodies in the vehicle. If that vehicle didn’t have bodies in it, we could have retrieved it long time ago.”