A requiem Mass was yesterday held for the 10 St Gabriel Primary School pupils who were killed in a road crash on Saturday night.
Tears flowed during the Mass presided over by Catholic Archbishop Antony Muheria at St Joseph Seminary in Mwingi town as the images of the pupils were displayed by the mourning families and friends.
The school bus collided with a lorry three kilometres from Mwingi town on the Mwingi-Garissa road as the pupils returned from a four-day academic tour in Mombasa.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed read President Uhuru Kenyatta's message of condolence and said the ministry would donate Sh100,000 for each family that lost a child to assist in burial arrangements.
“If tears could bring these children back, I have cried as a mother, I have been praying for the affected families,” Amina said.
Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said a directive issued earlier barring school buses from travelling after 6pm would be enforced.
Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu described Saturday's accident as a sad moment for the county.
“My heart is heavy because of this loss. It’s sad when parents lose children, whom they looked up to as future leaders,” she said.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka asked the Government to set up a trauma centre along the Thika-Mwingi-Garissa highway to cater for accident victims.
The chairman of the school's board of management, Christopher Nzili, told the gathering that the accident had devastated the institution, especially because nine of the 10 who died were candidates in this year's Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination.
"We are now short of 10 pupils who died in the most horrific way. It will take us time to recover from the tragedy and we urge everybody to join us in prayers and rebuilding the school," said Mr Nzili.
He said the school's parents and pupils needed counselling.
He recalled when the pupils’ parents, gathered in Mwingi town to wait for their children's return, were informed about the accident.
"We were shocked when somebody told us that an accident had happened,” he said.
Bernard Munyasya, who lost a daughter and spoke on behalf of the bereaved families, appealed to the Government to strictly enforce school safety directives.
The former ward rep said a plaque should be erected at the accident scene in memory of the 10 pupils.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monicah Juma, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, and all the MPs from the county attended the Mass.
Some leaders blamed the accident on the poor state of the road.
“If that road had been tarmacked, the school bus, which left Mombasa in good time, would have arrived home before dusk,” said Kalonzo.