Ruth Mutinda, widow of John Mutinda, who plunged into the Indian Ocean, is consoled by a friend in Mombasa, yesterday. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]
A 46-year-old man drove his car into the deep waters of the Likoni Channel in the wee hours of yesterday. Four hours later, his body was pulled out of his maroon saloon car from the bed of the sea.
At the time of the incident, witnesses say, none of the five vessels run by the Kenya Ferry Services that move passengers from Mombasa to the South Coast were operational.
Now, authorities are looking into the possibility that John Mutinda’s last ride may have been a suicide mission. A family spokesperson told journalists that the ill-fated drive started with a mysterious phone call at around 4am.
“Mutinda received a phone call and said he had to leave immediately,” Bernard Kyeti, the family spokesperson said, adding that they would issue a more comprehensive statement at a later date.
SEE ALSO :Vehicle that plunged into Indian Ocean at dawn retrieved Unusually early
Independent interviews by the Sunday Standard show that some minutes to 4am, the househelp in Mutinda’s house noticed noise from somewhere in the house. Her boss was up unusually early. But it is what happened next that made her raise an alarm.
Mutinda had driven off at a high speed.
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So she woke up Ruth Mueni, Mutinda’s wife. But when she got up, her husband had already left. But the two women, knowing that it would take some time before the car crosses to the other side, decided to follow him to the ferry. When they got there, news of a car plunging into the water had already started going around.
Family members said Mutinda, who owned and operated a Container Freight Station, had woken up in a jolt saying his late father was calling him and he was answering him. He left his home in Majengo Mapya Estate, where they have lived for 10 years, in neither shirt nor shoes. Just in a pair of trousers.
Sound asleep in the house were the couple’s three children. A son, who sat his KCSE this year and twin boys. All of them were probably wished goodnight by their father, but when they woke up, they did not have a father.
Two of them are too young to comprehend what such an event means to their lives and that of their mother.
No one really knows exactly what happened but security cameras capture his vehicle, a red Toyota Allion approaching the paying booths some minutes past 4am.
However, after a few seconds, the car then swerves to the right, drives past the paying booths while overlapping other vehicles that were ahead of it and makes a beeline for the front of the queue.
In a matter of seconds, the vehicle plunges straight into the sea. At the time of the incident, there was no ferry being boarded.
“The motorist went past the police check and failed to pay the ferry toll charges,” Kenya Ferry Managing Director Bakari Gowa said. “The staff approached him but he sped off.”
When this happened, the ramp controller alerted the coxswain who in turn alerted the control tower and a rescue boat was activated. The marine police and officers from the Kenya Navy joined the rescue mission. By 7am, as the daily ferry traffic started to pile up, a tail uncommon for Saturday traffic had already started to form. Passenger service vehicles from South Coast were forced to use alternative routes.
Although the ferry services resumed soon after, travelers could be heard conversing in low tones, asking each other how long the rescue mission would take. Every answer was grounded by the 13 days it took to retrieve the bodies of Mariam Kigenda and her daughter Amanda Mutheu in September.
Mutinda’s body was retrieved by divers from the Kenya Navy after an hour and a half. A marked improvement in recovery efforts, but another damning indictment to the management of the crucial crossing that links the North Coast and the South Coast as the country heads towards the festive season.
A few minutes to midday, Mutinda’s car was pulled out — just six metres under water, and slightly still ashore.
Witnesses say divers came to the scene at 7am, some two to three hours after the incident. It is estimated that the human body can only stay underwater for about 10 minutes.
By the time the divers arrived, the situation had changed from a rescue to a recovery mission.
Yesterday’s accident exposes existing gaps on the safety of the ferry as well as motorised and non-motorised traffic.
There are no vehicle searches. The body scanners installed at the pedestrian crossing hardly work. At peak hours, the few security personnel are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of passengers.
Every day, it is estimated that close to 300,000 people and 6,000 vehicles cross the channel, with an ever present danger looming over their heads.
“The security guards are failing to do their jobs. We want the company currently contracted to step aside and we get another company to manage the security of ferry users,” Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said.
Security officials led by Mombasa County Commissioner Gilbert Gitiyo, County Police Commander Augustine Nthumbi and other security officials were at the scene supervising recovery mission.
Mr Gitiyo said an inquiry has been opened to establish what transpired leading to tragedy.
“We have directed the police to start investigations to establish circumstances that led to the incident,” said the county boss who is also security chairman.
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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.