Partner with KWS to cover outdoor lovers enjoying Kathita River and its environs
By Ndugu Abisai
Six students from the new Tharaka Nithi University College are said to have gone for an afternoon excursion where they didn’t make it back to school, having drowned in Kathita River . All four bodies have since been retrieved and positively identified by family members. It is tragic how it happened, one student jumped into the river to swim, and when he was unable to come out, two of his friends jumped in to save him. But the waves were too strong for the four friends to make it to the bank. They all, in a tragic twist of fate, drowned. Three of the four bodies were retrieved from the murk in a cave behind the waterfall as search and rescue mission was called off as darkness approached in the Marimanti skyline on the day of the tragedy. The fourth body was retrieved on the second day ending what had become an agonizing stretch of time family and friends.
This is not the first time a tragedy is befalling the area. In 2019, a lady plunged in at the same place sadly losing her life. Many other cases have been reported over the years.
Kathita River is as subtle as it is conspicuous. It springs out suddenly in the thickness of evergreen vegetation in Marimanti-Tharaka Nithi. Terminating at this point with a rolling waterfall. But don’t be fooled by its subtlety. Like many outdoor attractions it comes with its beauty and dangers in almost an equal serving. River Kathita that cuts across 3 counties and empties into the expansive Tana River, it comes with its fair share dangers. Case in point the recent tragedy that took place in one of the many waterfalls in course of the river.
The local community consider Kathita a sacred river. And the ensuing waterfall the secret sitting place of ancient spirits responsible for good tidings for the community. Every time they are “disturbed” by people that come to dive and swim, the spirits retaliate and therefore dire consequences, many times death, must happen. However professional divers do not think this is a valid argument. One professional diver that helped in the recovery process in the recent tragedy said that the students drowned due to heavy currents that drew them away from safety.
It is easy to see why these tragedies keep happening. Most people are out there having a good time, taking photos and basically, enjoying nature. What this means is that there is need to look at this place as a touristy destination even just for locals and by a good stretch the many students from the Universities around. By buttressing this as a protected area, the number of these deaths may reduce.
There are similar areas that have experienced less deaths due to the control measure that have been institutionalized. A good example is the Thompson Falls. Intervention measure may include but not limited to:
- Recognize Kathita as a tourist attraction and therefore partner with KWS to offer protection of the area.
- Put in place caution notices around the area.
- Like many protected areas, put guides in charge to offer guidance for hikers.
These and many other interventions may just be the remedy to reducing or putting to end the tragedies in Kathita and many other such places as we create more attraction sites in the country for outdoor lovers.