Lukas Asang’asa, aka ‘Abdallah’ 72, had only worked for two days when he sat behind the wheel of the bus that crashed on Wednesday, killing 58 people.
Abdallah, a father of 25 had earlier worked for Matunda Bus Company and resigned three days before getting a job with Western Cross Express.
Relatives said Abdallah had worked as a driver for nearly 50 years and had never been involved in an accident.
Johnston Chogo, Abdala’s cousin, said they learnt of the accident through the radio but had received reports that the bus driver had jumped out of the moving vehicle after losing control, adding at first they believed he was in the hospital nursing injuries.
Abdallah had 25 children – three sons and 22 daughters. “He married several women and at the time of his death he was living in Kisumu with his last wife.” He had a child in Form Four, another in Form Three, and one at Sigalagala National Polytechnic.
At the Machakos Country Bus Station in Nairobi where he worked, those who knew him described him as a disciplined driver. Francis Mwangi, a driver with Eldoret Bus Services, claimed the ill-fated bus had faulty brakes and that Abdala was not meant to be behind the wheel on that day. “Hiyo gari haikuwa na lining. Ilikuwa imekwisha kabisa (the vehicle did not have brake linings, they were completely worn out),” said Mr Mwangi.
“Dereva alikataa hawezi endesha hiyo basi hadi ibadilishiwe lining. Ndio huyu dereva mwengine akaletwa kama mtu wa squadi (the driver declined to drive the bus until the brake linings were changed so they decided to bring on a temporary driver).”
Born in Vihiga County in 1946, his family says he has about 50 years of experience driving on Kenyan roads.
Was he fatigued? Sleepy? Sabotaging? Only authorities will know through investigations. Blamed for arrogance to passengers and careless driving, the old man is not alive carry it.
He died in the horrendous crash together with scores of women, men and children, who had moments before their death, warned, pleaded, shouted, reprimanded and even threatened him and did everything possible to make him a little more careful.
He and his conductor identified as Victor Mudvikisa Asava, 29, reportedly ignored it all. They both died through the chaos.
The old man used to drive long-haul goods transportation lorries, often staying away from home, traversing districts from Mombasa to Busia and beyond.
Later, family members say, he changed to public passenger vehicles driving matatus before joining the long-range buses.
Chogo, said their kin had complained about the condition of the bus before he left home for work.
One of the bus owners, Mr Shimanyula had defended the bus as being in good condition.
The old man may have continued with the job, perhaps feeling he had no choice if he were to earn a daily bread. But it was deadly; no seat belts; no license to operate at night and no fixed schedule.
Not a man to sit down and face poverty in the eye, he left home early, picking up jobs as a hired driver before getting routine employment.
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