A team-building excursion tour for a primary school in Uasin Gishu turned tragic after five of the pupils drowned on Saturday evening.
Five Kenya Certificate of Primary Education candidates from Arap Moi Primary School in Uasin Gishu County lost their lives when they drowned in an overflow dam during a school trip.
The victims were part of 183 candidates and grade six pupils from the school who had been taken for a trip at an Amazement Park in Ainabkoi Sub County, some 40 kilometres away from Eldoret town when the incident occurred.
The drowned pupils were identified as Abel Kipkemboi, Caleb Kipkurui, Godwin Kiprono, Anthony Kiptoo, and Evans Kiplimo. The bodies were moved to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, MTRH.
One grade six pupils, Gideon Kigen, survived the tragedy after being rescued and rushed to MTRH for treatment.
A sister to one of the deceased candidates, 16-year-old Abel Kipkemboi, Alice Chepchumba, said her brother, a top-performing pupil, had promised them that he would perform well in the forthcoming KCPE examinations and hoped to join Starehe Boys.
“My brother had told us that he will not let us down and that he will work hard in the national examination and join Stare Boys, which she said was his first choice,” said Chepchumba.
According to Chepchumba, the school usually takes class eight candidates to the ill-fated dam before sitting the national examinations annually, noting this was the first time such a tragedy has ever occurred.
The candidates who were set to sit for their exams on Monday are said to have taken turns on a boat ride in the man-made dam before the tragedy occurred, plunging the entire Olare village into mourning.
Uasin Gishu County Police Commander Benjamin Mwanthi confirmed the incident and said investigations have been launched to determine how the tragedy occurred.
The boss said the site where the pupils lost their lives while boat riding has been secured and that no expedition activities in the dam that is now a no-go zone until investigations are completed.
Area MCA Gilbert Chepkonga blamed the tragedy on negligence on the part of the teachers who had accompanied the candidates on the fateful day.
He said that it was wrong for the teachers to leave the pupils on their own to take the boat ride, yet the site had been declared out of bounds for lack of an instructor.
“There was nobody to ensure the safety of pupils at the dam since there was no instructor, and to make matters worse, the tutors were having lunch just a few metres away from the scene of the incident,” alleged Chepkonga.
Uasin Gishu County Director of Education (CDE) John Thiringi described the incident as an unfortunate event.
“It is unfortunate that the tragedy has interfered with the expectations of the candidates who were set to sit for their national exam on Monday,” said Thiringi after visiting the school where the victims were learners.
The school’s headteacher, Liza Kirui, was rushed to MTRH after fainting on learning about the tragic incident and is receiving treatment.
According to the CDE, a senior teacher will be appointed temporarily to act in her position as she continues to recuperate at the hospital following the shocking news.