The Kirinyaga county government will undertake a training programme for local divers in the Mt. Kenya forest to minimize loss of lives along rivers flowing from the mountain.
The Deputy Governor, Peter Ndambiri said training will go a long way in saving the lives of those who drown while swimming in themany rivers deep in the forest.
Ndambiri said already the County government has signed an MOU with the Kenya Red Cross who will be involved in the training and provision of the required equipments to the community divers.
We are losing so many people who are dying while swimming in the rivers and something must be done at least to stop more deaths, he said.
Only last week, three students from Embu University lost their lives after they slipped into Nyamindi River during a picnic.
Had we earlier formed an emergency team, I believe the three university students would have been saved before they died Ndambiri said
But be it as it may, these gigantic rivers have been and continue to be silent killers in the Mt. Kenya going by the many lives that have been lost through drowning.
Some of the drowning victims have disappeared without trace while it requires a lot of home grown expertise to retrieve bodies from the ice cold waters it has emerged.
In 1992, Dekow Mohamed from Mandera district (now County) drowned into Nyamindi river after a Miraa vehicle he had hiked plunged in the deep waters.
Mohamed’s body who was a second year University of Nairobi student pursuing a degree in Commerce has never been traced to date despite the Kenya Navy divers having been deployed to assist in the rescue operations.
The Navy divers said they were not used to rescue operations in rivers with such high velocities and massive cold waters like Nyamindi.
His former college mate Mohamed Birik, now the Kirinyaga County Commissioner still vividly remembers the agony the deceased’s parents went through after his body could not be traced for burial.
In 1998, during the Elnino rains, a British Army soldier while on a training exercise slipped into Kamweti River, a tributary of Thiba and to date, nothing has been known of him.
In 2014, a first year student from the Animal Health and Industry Training Institute (AHITI), Ndomba near Kutus town drowned as he went on a swimming spree with his friends at Thiba River.
The victim who hailed from Kajiado County had never seen such a river in his life time and his body was recovered two days after the incident, which happened in February that year.
In January 2015, a first year student from DedanKimathi University drowned in the Sagana River while on a private picnic with friends.
Local divers managed to pull out his body two days later after professional divers were unable to withstand the strong currents in the river and the cold temperatures.
The recent incident involving two Embu University students who drowned while attending a private picnic at the God’s bridge of the turbulent Nyamindi River last Saturday only continues to add the statistics of lives lost in the silent killers of Mt Kenya forest.
The Embu University Dean of Students, Dr. Mark Otieno who was at the scene advances the theory that due to their adventurer’s nature first years appear to be the victims of drowning.
Three local divers led by DansonBundi managed to retrieve the bodies of the two students who had been trapped deep inside between rocks where the waters were at freezing point.
Birik who witnessed the retrieval said local divers will be trained and stationed at a central point where they can respond to any future emergencies along the three rivers.
There is also the better side of the rivers with the dense Mt. Kenya forest, most of which lies in Kirinyaga County forming one of the five natural water towers in the country.
The forest is also the source to the three gigantic rivers Nyamindi, Thiba and Tana (Thagana on the upper side), with Tana having sources from Mt Kenya and the Aberdares.
These three rivers are among natural economic drivers of the country through their waters which never dry since their sources are right at the mountain.
Both Nyamindi and Thiba end up joining Tana River whose waters are used by the KENGEN to generate most of the hydro �power for the country at the seven folk’s dams in Mbeere and Machakos.
The water s from Nyamindi and Thiba rivers are used as sources for the irrigation of the rice crop at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme since 1956 when rice production was introduced.
Many families have also depended on waters from these two giant rivers for both domestic and small holder irrigation purposes especially on the upper and middle zones of the county.
On the other hand Thagana River has become an international zone for water sports especially for canoeing and kayaking.
In 2015 a section of the river where the Havila Resort stands was declared an International Olympic site for Africa.
The site was used for the Rio-Olympic qualifiers for both kayaking and canoeing thereby raising the status of the river to the international fame.
The river has also gained popularity for the newly introduced rafting, which is a water sport as well and which foreigners like even more than kayaking and canoeing.
In fact , we get tourists who come here specifically for rafting all the year round unlike kayaking and canoeing whose competitions are once in a year,” said Alexander Chege , Havila’s proprietor.
The river has from the Kirinyaga/Embu/Muranga/Machakos boundary intersection a chain of hotels and resorts which in 2016 earned the proprietors over Shs 300million.
In September this year, the river will be the venue for the World Canoeing and Kayaking according to the Confederation of Africa Canoeing (CAC).
The National Olympics Committee Secretary General, Seif Patwa who recently visited the site also confirmed the 6th Africa Canoe Slalom in September at the site.
He said he was working hard with his other officials to popularize rafting as a water sport which will in turn attract many tourists to the country.
I can see rafting overtaking the usual climbing of mt Kenya by tourists since this sport is more adventurers and appealing.
Source: Kenya News Agency