Fishermen and local divers at Ka’dolorosa Beach in Rarieda sub-county were searching for one of their own who drowned in Lake Victoria.
The man, identified as Alfred Amolo Olal, was said to have been fishing with three other people when he slipped from a boat and drowned.
East Asembo Beach Management Unit chair Tobia Aiko said Mr Olal was with his colleagues when the incident occurred.
He said Mr Olal “slipped while casting a net into the lake. The colleagues’ attempt to save him failed and he drowned”.
“They called for help from other fishermen, who arrived to lend a hand, but it was too late as he had already drowned. We have initiated a search together with local divers and we hope we will [find his body],” he said.
Lack of basic rescue equipment was said to be a hindrance in such missions.
“The search is on but the equipment to make the search more efficient is lacking. The divers have no proper diving gear and this slows down the process of searching for victims,” said John Onyango, chairman of the Rarieda Fishermen Union.
He said county leaders had neglected fishermen though they pay taxes.
Nothing about welfare
“The government collects taxes from us, we are just like other industries but we have been neglected. All that the government wants to get from the fishermen is the tax and wants to hear nothing about welfare,” he lamented.
This is not the first drowning in the area. In June 2016, a boat carrying 17 members of a local band capsized and nine people died.
The Siaya government promised to train local divers and equip them with the necessary equipment, but this remains only a promise.
Because the searchers lack proper equipment, they said they may have to wait for the body to surface.
“We are trying our best to find the body. If we fail, then we will wait for it to float after three or more days. This is the most common method that the fishermen have been using for centuries to retrieve loved ones from the water in such situations,” said Mr Onyango.
As is usually the practice in such cases, family members of the man who drowned must stay on the shore of the lake until the body is found.
“According to Luo cultural beliefs, in order to hasten the search, all the family members would be stationed on the shore as other people search,” said Mzee Daniel Okuku.
“It is believed that the love that the family members have for the drowned man would pull the person from the water.”