24 May 2012

Kenya: Hit-and-Run Motorist Injures Six

SIX people on Wednesday evening were seriously injured at the Export Processing Zone Athi River when a motorist drove into a crowd of job seekers.

The injured, all women, were part of about 30 people who had gathered at the Altex EPZ factory gates as they sought employment at the export garment factory. The injured women, with some suffering head injuries and broken ribs, were thrown out of Kitengela Medical Hospital for reasons the administrators at the facility claimed they could not raise required cash deposits before they were admitted.

The good Samaritans who had taken the injured to the hospital were forced to seek assistance elsewhere at Pona Hospital in Kitengela where the doctors immediately admitted them for ex-rays and treatment. Dr. Moses Kuria of Pona Hospital told the Star that the injured were six young women. Kuria said one victim, Jane Juma, broke three ribs and suffered a head injury, one other had broken legs while the rest had soft tissue injuries on their legs, shoulders and necks.

One of the injured victim, Lydia Wamae, who suffered neck and shoulder injuries was also pregnant, according to Kuria. Tension was high at the hospital after a group of men invaded the hospital and beat up journalists and eye witnesses who were attempting to talk to the media. The goons claimed they had been sent by a senior manager at Altex, a garment export company at EPZ, to block "loose talkers from making any statements". A freelance photographer Joseph Jamenya was accosted when he was found taking photos of the injured.

Athi River Traffic Police Base Commander, Charles Opondo, confirmed the accident and said the driver of the vehicle took off after the accident that left the six people injured. "we are looking for the female driver who was driving this vehicle said to belong to Altex garment export company at EPZ," said Opondo.

Eye witnesses said the female driver was speeding at an estimated 100 km per hour at the time of the accident and drove direct into job seekers outside Altex company. they claimed the Altex vehicle was being driven by a wife of a senior manager at the company. Our attempts to talk to authorities at the company fell on a hard rock as no one wanted to take responsibility over the incident.

A senior security officer at the EPZ Authority yesterday said speed limit on all the streets inside the facility is 5 km per hour and wondered where the woman was headed to at the time of the accident. The official whom we could not quote his name because of his position said the driver of the ill-fated vehicle drove over the women and sped off to a periphery wall fence where she crushed the car's wind screen.

Athi River police boss, Charles Kiriinya, later told us that after reviewing the status of the accident he had opted to start investigations into what led to the accident terming it "abnormal". Police are also questioning the incident in which some people from Altex company went to beat up eye witnesses and journalists at Pona Hospital in Kitengela.

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