The body of a toddler who fell into a 45-foot borehole 12 days ago has been retrieved.
Lilian Ndanu and her children were visiting her relatives in Nyali, Mombasa County, on Christmas Day when the boy, Fadhil Rahma, fell into the hole.
“We are waiting to clear with the police before we make burial plans. We will bury the baby in Mombasa,” said Mr Bernard Opondo, whom Ms Ndanu’s family was visiting on the fateful day.
Questions had been raised about the pace of the search-and-rescue efforts.
The mouth of the borehole was small, hindering rescue efforts. The child cried for help but died minutes later as his family and friends watched helplessly.
“We tried all our best to rescue the boy but we couldn’t as the size of the borehole was small. We just stood there powerless as his cries faded away,” Mr Opondo narrated.
Ms Ndanu, a mother of three who resides in Mtwapa, had urged the national government to intervene. On Christmas Day, she recounted how the tragedy unfolded.
“We ate lunch and then all four children went out to play. We did not know that there was a hole outside. I am very saddened by this incident. I just wish my child’s body is retrieved so we can bury him,” she said.
Divers from the Kenya Navy arrived at the scene, raising the family’s hopes. But they later left without saying a word to the family.
“I saw a child walking towards that borehole, and within a few seconds I heard a wail. I rushed to the area to confirm and I heard it wailing. I called the neighbours, who confirmed it was one of the toddlers,” said eyewitness Ms Khadija Alamin.
The county government blamed rains and unstable soil for the delays in retrieving the body.
County disaster management link person Mr Josephat Manase said the rescue operations team had been working to retrieve the body since December 25.
He said they “resorted to digging and constructing the borehole to ensure the safety of the rescue team” because the soil kept caving in.
But residents blamed Mombasa leaders and politicians for failing to help the family, as they urged the county to secure all manholes.
“Many builders are failing to adhere to the laws. How can you leave a borehole unsecured? This is the scenario in Mombasa," said Mr Marwa Athmani, a housing agent.
"We have many unsecured boreholes which pose a risk to our children. But what is the law enforcement doing?”