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Twist of fate as firm’s trucks kill three relatives

By Allan Mungai | November 24th 2018
Residents watch a lorry that rammed into a house at Mukurwei-ini in Nyeri on November 15, 2018. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

?Two young cousins were glued to their TV screens, captivated by a fairy tale unfolding thousands of kilometres away. Unknown to them, they would not live long enough to see their telenovela heroine triumph. 

On the fateful evening of November 14, Mercy Wangechi, 12, and her cousin Bancy Wangechi, 9, would soon learn that lightning can strike one place twice and to devastating effects, when for the second time a lorry rammed their house.

At the time of the accident, they were in their semi-permanent house built a few metres from the road.

The two children were among four people who were killed when the lorry lost control and rammed houses at Tambaya on the Nyeri-Mukurweini highway.

The others who perished include the lorry’s driver and a pedestrian identified as Wambugu.

The lorry belongs to a construction company, Roben Aberdare Company Limited, which is carpeting the highway.

By a cruel twist of fate, a truck owned by the same company killed the girls’ grandmother in a road accident in 2015.

After the accident, the family was embroiled in a legal tussle that ultimately ended with it being awarded Sh2 million as compensation by the courts.

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An official of Roben Aberdare told the Saturday Standard that the company had appealed the decision, explaining that it was one of the several cases filed against it.

“It is unfortunate that the family has suffered so much. This is why we gave the family Sh350,000 to assist in reconstructing the house. I wish there is away we could ease their pain,” said the official who requested not to be named.

The girls’ grandfather, David Ndirangu, was inconsolable as he narrated the tragedy that had befallen his family.

“We were awarded Sh2 million by the court but we have not received even a cent. The lawyer said we would get Sh700,000 if we met some conditions,” Ndirangu said.

He said the driver of the lorry was speeding when he lost control and hit a pedestrian before veering off the road and landing on the houses.

“It just flew and hit a man on the road and went through the houses. The two children were watching TV in the house,” he said.

For Ndirangu, if death is a doorway, then the vehicles owned by the construction company have been the handle that opened it for his family and close friends.

Teresia Wanjiku Mwangi, whose daughter is one of the deceased, said she had just left to go to the shop when the loaded truck came tumbling down the hill.

“I saw the lorry driving like it was out of control then it was on top of the houses. I screamed that there were children inside but it was too late,” Wanjiku said.

From the destruction caused by the 25-tonne lorry, it would have been almost impossible to survive the crash.

Presently, a tent is erected where the houses previously stood; where sorrow-engulfed friends and relatives come to pay tribute to the family, as it makes burial preparations.

Yet death stalks the settlement of wooden shacks near Tambaya Bridge, residents said this is the second accident to claim lives in a year. Just last year, a Land Rover hit and killed a pedestrian.

John Gachanja, a resident of the area, urged the government to move them to a safer area to avoid the yearly carnage.

“If it is possible for us to get an alternative place to relocate then that would be best decision,” he said.  

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