Murkomen rallies Senators, Gov’t to support Kerio Valley landslide victims

Murkomen rallies Senators, Gov’t to support Kerio Valley landslide victims

A sombre mood engulfed the Senate on Tuesday as Senators discussed the Kerio Valley landslide tragedy that has left 24 people dead and 15 others missing.

Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who is also the Senator for Elgeyo Marakwet (one of the affected counties) in his statement to the Senate, highlighted the devastating effects of the Saturday evening landslide occasioned by heavy rains that have been pounding the region.

The landslide affected families living in Sigor Constituency in West Pokot County and Embobut Ward in Kipchumwa Constituency in Elgeyo Marakwet, which is home to Senator Murkomen.

“Of those who have died, most of them are children of between 7 and 18 years with one family having lost twins who are 8 years old,” he said.

Murkomen lauded the government for its swift intervention to deal with the situation, though noting that more needs to be done to avert such tragedies.

“The same evening (Saturday), the leadership of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot had a conference call with the Deputy President and the following day the President called among other people myself, to assure us of the government’s support, and as a result government officials were sent to the ground,” he stated.

He however called for interminable support for families that have lost loves ones in the tragedy, those whose houses have been swept away, and traders whose businesses have been disrupted due to the landslides and impassable roads.

“While I appreciate government intervention, little or no effort has been made to account for the over 15 people who are still missing, while search and recovery has been left to the locals,” said Murkomen.

The Majority Leader challenged the government to put in place measures to relocate the residents of landslide-probe areas to safer grounds and rollout environmental regeneration to prevent such tragedies from recurring.

“In 2013 we moved many people from Embogut forest so that we can conserve the forest and as a result they moved to their ancestral lands in the escarpments thus putting pressure on the land leading to landslides. These people now have nowhere else to go as they do not have alternative land.”

In his appeal to the national government, through the Standing Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources, Murkomen wants the government to account for all persons who reside in the areas affected by the landslide, set aside alternative land to resettle the displaced families, and offer compensation to the affected families.

He has also called on the government to begin the reconstruction of roads washed away by the landslide and rebuild the schools that have been destroyed, among them Liter Girls High School, Chesogon Primary School, and Cheptany Primary School.

One after the other, Senators, among them Ledama Olekina (Narok), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), and Beatrice Kwamboka (Nominated), condoled with the families of those who had perished in the tragedy while promising to pull together resources to support the affected.

In her statement Senator Kwamboka called for the implementation of the Disaster Management Bill so that those affected in such tragedies will be granted compensation and support.

While offering his condolences and support to the families, Senator Cheruiyot questioned government’s commitment in dealing with the tragedy saying there had been laxity in the aftermath of the landslide.

“It seems that there are certain regions that are considered to be more special than others. How can it be that 24 Kenyans can die and not a single high ranking government official, either Cabinet Secretary or Principal Secretary, has shown up to give guidance to those leading the rescue efforts?

“This is indicative of the kind of discrimination that some citizens of this country have to live with. All Kenyans must be treated equally,” said Cheruiyot.