KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE UNDER SCRUTINY OVER HELLS GATE NATIONAL PARK DISASTER
(Posted 03rd September 2019)
After tragedy struck again over the weekend, following a similar incident in 2012, is the Kenya Wildlife Service’ safety protocol coming under scrutiny once more after seven people died as a result of flash floods racing through the park’s infamous canyons.
Going by reports from Nairobi some 12 visitors and one guide had entered the maze of gorges to explore them but only six returned as twilight descended and night fell over the park.
Bodies found far away from the park are undergoing identification at present to establish their identity but it is thought that they could be the missing tourists and their guide after a body was already discovered earlier on.
One of the survivors claims he has been told, after paying the entrance fee, that all would be well following the question if trekking through the gorges would be safe.
Though apparently a slight drizzle developed did the guide take his group nevertheless into the gorges only to be surprised by fast rising water turning into a raging flood following heavier rains some distance from the park.
Said a leading safari operator in Nairobi to ATCNews on condition of anonymity: ‘KWS is responsible for safe operations in the park. If weather reports indicate that there is a risk of flooding in the gorges, they must stop all entries of visitors. In 2012 they closed the park following a similar incident and revised their rule book. Now it seems they either disregarded their own rules or those rules need to be updated. What cannot continue to that they charge entrance fees and visitors fall victim to complacent behaviour as has been suggested in this case. The staff at the gates must be alert, stay in touch with head office and monitor the weather situation, not just above the park but also in areas where catchment areas can collect so much water that it leads to flooding in the gorges. Two tragedies of this kind are at least one too many!‘