Lives lost in floods should remind government of its duty to prioritise citizen's safety

A man looks at a vehicle that was swept downstream by raging flood waters in Mai Mahiu killing at least 50 people. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya is in the grips of a devastating flood crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 188 people. The widespread flooding, triggered by heavy rains, has caused immense destruction and displacement across the country. So far, at least ninety (90) people are still missing, with 125 others injured while approximately 165,500 persons have been displaced.

Despite repeated warnings from meteorological authorities and disaster management agencies' failure to take proactive measures has exacerbated the situation, leading to unnecessary loss of life and property. The lack of preparedness and timely response to the flooding crisis has raised serious questions about the government's commitment to protecting its citizens.

Inadequate drainage systems and poor urban planning are among the deep-rooted causes of the flooding crisis that require urgent attention. It is therefore imperative that those responsible for this negligence are held accountable for their inaction.

Article 26 of the Kenyan Constitution guarantees every person the right to life, a fundamental principle that the government is obligated to uphold. However, despite clear weather warnings indicating imminent danger, the government remained inactive, neglecting its responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens.

  Earlier in the wee, a blocked water tunnel broke its bank following heavy rains and wreaked havoc in Mai Mahiu, killing more than 50 people. In May 2018, 48 people were killed when a dam in Solai burst its banks amidst heavy rains, which authorities described as a result of negligence.

Those who fail to act must be held accountable for their failure to protect lives and property.  Kenyans on social media have equally called for accountability while demanding justice for the lives lost due to preventable circumstances. Only through accountability and justice can lessons be learned and measures put in place to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua have visited survivors of the Mai Mahiu tragedy and promised to support them. According to the Kenya Red Cross, 75 people are still missing while another 110 are still admitted with different injuries among them fractures. The government has promised to provide humanitarian aid to the survivors of the floods tragedy- the worst so far.

The lives lost serve as a stark reminder of the government's duty to prioritize the safety and well-being of its citizens above all else.