Before his disappearance, Julius Kipngetich Mutai had worked as a taxi driver in Kapsabet town, Nandi County for many years.
In his line of work, it was not uncommon for Julius to not return home for a night but it has now been 10 years since he was last seen at his Kapkorio village, which is just a few kilometers from Kapsabet town.
According to his younger brother, Ernest Mutai, Julius was last seen on July 10, 2006 picking up some clients before fueling his car at a petrol station. Nobody knows where he took his clients after that.
“When my brother failed to return, we were very disturbed. We went to the vehicle owner, who had hired Julius, and he too did not have any word of whereabouts. His phone went unanswered for some time before eventually going off, making it difficult to find him,” Ernest said.
This set the stage for a search journey that has not borne any fruit and that has continued to confound his young family.
“He had just married in 2003 and by the time he disappeared in 2006, he had one child,” Ernest said.
The family reported the matter at the Kapsabet Police Station before mounting a search that took them to various hospitals and towns including Eldoret, Kakamega, Busia among others. His car, a Toyota KAR 599 S has also never been found.
“When the post-election violence erupted and rocked many parts of the country, about a year after his disappearance, we thought he would surely come back but he never did,” Ernest said.
He continued: “We think it was possible he was carjacked because we are yet to recover the car. I hope one day, if he still alive, he will come back home. He was a breadwinner and his disappearance came after we had just lost both our parents”.
According to Kapsabet Ward Member Fred Kipkemboi, who used to work with Julius as a taxi driver, the man was a silent person who would not offend anyone.
“We used to operate our business at night in Kapsabet town and sometimes we would take our customers to adjacent towns including Eldoret, Kisumu, Kobujoi or even Kakamega,” Fred said.
He continued: “Before the disappearance, Julius was seen having a lengthy negotiation with some people in town. It is also said that he fueled his car at Namgoi before driving off.”
The MCA says he knew Julius very well and thought of him as a conscientious worker who was disciplined and did his work well.
The owner of the car that Julius was driving, Gideon Kogo, says Julius was an honest person, committed to his work which he did with very little supervision.
“Julius used to drive the taxi and bring returns after two or four days. He could at that time generate between Sh500 and Sh600 on a daily basis after deducting his fee, cost of fuel and maintenance. When business was good, he would bring me Sh1,000 a day,” Gideon said.
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Julius’s disappearance and loss of his car has continued to baffle Gideon who has not given up on finding the missing man and vehicle.
“We reported the matter to police and they promised to signal other regions in an effort to trace the driver and the car. Ten years later and we are still waiting. We are now appealing to anyone who has information on Julius to please volunteer it,” Gideon said.