Victims of house collapse count losses as they move on

Lilian Auma searches for valuables from the rubble of the four-storey building that collapsed on Saturday night. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]
The Metropolitan team on Tuesday bumped into Lilian Auma putting together the few items she had managed to salvage from the building that collapsed in Kariobangi South over the weekend. She is lucky to have found another house just a stone's throw away from the collapsed building.

The single mother of three was accompanied by her children, who could not go to school because their uniforms, books and shoes were all buried in the rubble. The three children are in Standard Five, Three and Pre-Unit.

Ms Auma managed to save only some bedding, clothes and utensils.

“When I heard that the building was about to collapse, the first thing I thought of were my children and I ran to rescue them. I could not take out much because we thought the building would come tumbling down at any time,” she said.

She is, however, worried about her children’s education because she must start afresh - getting new books, uniforms and shoes for them. At the back of her mind is how will they make up for the lost time.

“All that they had learned so far in school is lost. I do not know where to start now because there is no one to support us and my children need to get back to school."

Auma had lived in a one-bedroom flat in the building for two years.

Christine Bella, another victim who lived with her family in one of the houses, narrated how they found out about the cracks that led to the building's eventual collapse.

It was about 8.30pm on Friday night when she left the house to go to the shops. On the way, she was stopped by a vegetable vendor who lives in the next building who said she had noticed a lot of sand spilling onto their staircase although she was not sure which building it was coming from.

“By the time the vegetable vendor was telling me this, she already knew that the building had cracks, but we were not sure which building it was. We ignored it,” Ms Bella said.

When she returned home, there were people gathered in front of the building and she stopped to find out what was happening. She said a boy shone a torch between the buildings and they saw a lot of sand spilling from the building.

“It looked as if the building was separating from the other. That was when we started screaming and telling people to leave the building quickly,” she recalled.

She said that they tried rescuing the few things they could, especially bedding, utensils and clothes.

“Most of the things remained including valuables like ATM, NHIF and NSSF cards. We took only what we needed at the time.”

Bella and her family will be putting up in a neighbouring incomplete building for the next one week until they find a house they can move into.

By 12am, when the police arrived, everybody had vacated the building and they were barred from going back inside. At about 3.34am, the building collapsed.

Bella told Metropolitan that one of her neighbours, who was at work when the warning came, lost everything because he forgot his house keys at work as he rushed home to salvage his belongings.

Kariobangi Southhouse collapseLilian Auma