A family in Kitui is in shock and dilemma after a court directed for exhumation and relocation of six bodies buried in their homestead to pave way for the tarmacking of the Kibwezi-Mutomo-Kitui-Kabati-Migwani road.
Mutomo Senior Principal Magistrate Z.J.Nyakundi issued orders to an 89-year-old widow in the family to relocate the six bodies from the Nzambani/Kyanika/513 parcel in Kyanika location in Chuluni, Kitui East constituency within convenient time.In the orders dated May 15 this year, Mr Nyakundi directed that Ms Nduku Mausu to relocate the six graveyards including that of her husband, Mausu Ngulu who died in 1988.
Other graves belong to the grandmother’s children, nieces and nephews.
The court further ordered the Officer Commanding Chuluni Police Station (OCS) and the Nzambani Sub-county public health officer to supervise the exhumation exercise scheduled to be done Friday.
When The Standard visited the home on Wednesday, we found the widow sitting outside her house in low conversation with her eldest daughter Ruth Mausu and other family confused by the court order.
The widow backed by her children said when she received the orders she felt the world has come to an end imaging how devastating moment would be to disturb the peace of the dead.Nduku said the exhuming of the bodies would rekindle the memories when she lost her husband some 31 years ago.
She said the most disturbing aspect was that the court did not address the issue of compensation or compel the Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, the Chinese company constructing the 172km kilometre road, to assist in the relocation of the graves.
“The Chinese have approached us with their African workmates and told us if we don’t exhume the bodies within the specified time, they will bring their excavators and remove the human skeletons and dump them in the bush. Then I ask myself, do these people value the dead?” Nduku said as she sobbed
.The widow said the family could not afford to build six new graves and she had appealed to her family members to think of preparing only two graves for her late husband and the other for the other five members.
Nduku narrated depressing conditions they are undergoing from the contractor who is tarmacking the Sh18 billion road and expressed disaffection with the development.She said the upgrading of the dilapidated road which is expected to bring joy and relief to Kitui and Makueni residents, has turned their lives into a nightmare.
The widow said as a staunch Africa Brotherhood Church (ABC) faithful she leaves everything to God to manage.
“Ngai nowe wisi maundu aa. Nyie ndina vinya na utonyi wa kumalea. (Only God knows the fate of my tribulations. I have no authority or power to disobey.)
Nduku said she would not engage in cultural and traditional ceremonies to appease the dead’s spirits because that it would also be cost effective.Sinohydro senior managers identified only as Bonus, Lee and Hann could not be reached for comment.
Kitui county commissioner Jackson ole Chuta last week led a team of Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and security team in an inspection tour of the road to familiarise themselves with the emerging issues.
Mr Chuta said families had initially opposed the road passing through their piece of land especially where they have buried their relatives.
“The Government will assist the affected families in having their departed relatives buried elsewhere away from the road reserve,” Chuta said.At least 38 bodies, including Nduku’s family members, will be exhumed between Chuluni market and Kitui town to allow the road to pass.
The County Commissioner said they had moved to court to acquire for orders to facilitate the exhumation.President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto launched the project on December 6, 2016 in Mutomo market, Kitui South.
The road once completed would open a frontier for development in Kitui County, boost trade and serve as a major artery to the three lower Eastern region counties.
According to the KeNHA’s Chairman Erastus Mwongera the highway will act as a link in the long-term goal of developing the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Corridor.