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How we saved school children from deadly city floods

I had never felt so vulnerable and helpless. A Makini school bus with my little daughter on board was stuck in the middle of roaring floods even as I stood there helpless, watching the raging storm waters threaten to submerge the whole bus.

I was in Nairobi’s South C Estate with other parents. We were saying prayers and shouting at the driver to allow the 18 pupils to climb on top of the bus.

The rains and the gushing waters would not stop. Very scary stuff.

I decided to text every important person I know in a position of authority and seek their intervention.


The list of the people I texted resembled the who-is-who in government, including the head of public service, Mr James Kinyua and all the Cabinet secretaries in my phone book. I even texted Mr Abbas Gullet of Red Cross.

Five hours later, no intervention was forthcoming from my influential contacts. At some point, there was hope when KK Security Services Ltd brought in a big truck we believed had a clearance high enough to tow the  Makini School Bus. It got stuck in the floods.

Then there was this moment when police came and promised us that a fire brigade vehicle from the Wilson Airport was on the way. It did not come.

At about 3am, I received a phone call from my friend Nzioka Waita, who was recently appointed by President Kenyatta as Secretary for Delivery.

He promised to make the right calls. Then he called back to say police were on site and were mobilising to rescue the children.

He had passed the number to the OCPD and that the police boss of the area would call me shortly.

The problem, however, was that the policemen who were with us were as helpless as we were.

They could not as much as wade through the water to try and assess the depth of the sea that separated us from the bus.

By about 3.30am, I was in a state of total helplessness.

The only hope was that the rains had abated and we could now see the bus clearly.


A group of young men belonging to Sonko Rescue team arrived at the scene and started wading through the water.

With another parent at Makini School who identified himself as Baba Eddy, we decided to follow the Sonko team and waded through the water for about 100 metres, until we reached the bus.

Eddy and my daughter were the first to leave the bus. I will be forever grateful to Mr Sonko.

What are the policy implications?

Folks, we are sleep walking into a national security crisis.

In this era, it is not acceptable to present terrible acts of nature as manifestations of God’s divine will.

We must improve our ability to deal with whatever nature throws at us.

South C is a very old neighbourhood.

All we need is to ensure Nairobi West River flows freely.

Source: Daily Nation