Missing money causes more pain for relatives of Fort Ternan crash victims

Some of the bereaved people, who say they have not received money raised during the funeral service on October 10, 2018. [Duncan Ocholla, Standard]

Families of those who died in the grisly Fort Ternan road accident last month claim they are yet to receive money that was raised to help them.

The money was collected during the requiem mass on October 10 at Amalemba grounds in Kakamega town for 34 out of 58 people who died in the accident. At least 58 people died in the early morning accident.

Now, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale wants Deputy President William Ruto to launch investigations into the matter. 

Dr Khalwale told Mr Ruto on Sunday at Malava Primary School that the money collected during the requiem mass had not reached the bereaved families. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Ruto and a host of other leaders contributed money during the function.

Sh7 million

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“We want to thank the national government for standing with us when we lost our relatives in the Fort Ternan accident, but we are wondering where the President’s Sh2.5 million and your Sh500,000 went to," said Khalwale.

He added: “Political leaders and the public also contributed money, which was over Sh7 million and no one is explaining where the money disappeared to.”

Last week, the affected families pitched tent at Muliro Gardens in Kakamega town demanding the money.

Joshua Luseno, who lost a son, daughter-in-law and grandchild, accused authorities of taking the families for a ride.

Mr Luseno said they visited County Commissioner Abdirizak Jaldesa's office, but were referred to Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s office.

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“He (Jaldesa) said he handed over the money to the county government and advised us to follow up the matter from there,” said Luseno.

He said they will move to court to compel the county government to give them the money.

However, an official at the county government headquarters referred the families to Mr Oparanya's adviser, Musa Chibole, who was the chairman of the funeral committee.

Mr Chibole reportedly told them to be patient to allow the committee to take stock of all the people who were affected by the crash, including those still in hospital.

Roselyne Shilwatso, who lost a daughter, accused county officials of playing games with the money.

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“We would like to be given some of the money so that we can clear debts incurred during the burial of our relatives. That is not asking too much,” said Ms Shilwatso.

According to her, nobody was willing to account for the 58 bags of maize donated by Deputy President William Ruto.

Bags of maize

“We were warned against pursuing the matter further. We were told it was not a guarantee that we would be given the 58 bags of maize from the Deputy President,” said Shilwatso.

The families claimed some of the money collected during the service was never made public and could end up in individuals' pockets.

Mr Chibole, when reached for a comment, accused journalists of peddling rumours.

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However, governor Oparanya told journalists tha tonly Sh1.5 million was raised during the requiem mass. His government, he said, gave a further Sh300,000 bringing the amount to Sh1.8 million.

Mr Oparanya said every family was given Sh50,000. "We also bought coffins for all the victims and hired vehicles to ferry their relatives to their respective homes. Those demanding for money are imposters since we have closed the chapter,” he said.

He said the president’s contribution was never handed to the county government and that the County Commissioner is "handling the matter".

However, County Commissioner Abdiruzak Jaldesa said his office only received Sh50,000 from the National Disaster Centre. Out of this, Sh14,000 was paid to Kericho County Referral Hospital as mortuary fees and while balance, Sh36,000, was paid to the families.

Mr Jaldesa said Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony's did not waived all hospital and mortuary bills as he claimed.

“If Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony is insisting he waived all the mortuary fees, then the Sh14,000 we paid for each family should be refunded to us and given to the families,” he said.

Kakamega Senator Boni KhalwaleDeputy President William RutoFort Ternan