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Kibaki proposes measures to stem rising cases of fire in city slums

By | April 14th 2011
By | April 14th 2011

By Mutinda Mwanzia

President Kibaki has expressed concern over fire outbreaks in informal settlements in Nairobi and called for measures to mitigate the effects.

He regretted that lives have been lost and property destroyed by the fires, adding that a lot needs to be done in the provision of fire-fighting equipment.

Kibaki, however, admitted that efforts to contain fire incidents in informal settlements are being hampered by lack of access roads.

"That’s why the relevant authorities should open up all roads leading to the settlement areas in the city so that people responding to distress can access them easily," he said.

The Head of State said the public should also be educated on safety measures to avoid cases of fire, especially in densely populated areas.

He said more fire stations need to be set up in towns surrounding Nairobi to enhance efficiency of services.

President Kibaki and City Council officials during the commissioning of new fire-fighting equipment bought by Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry, at KICC, Nairobi, Wednesday. [PHOTO: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD]

"The decentralisation of the Nairobi Fire Station is long overdue," he said.

The Head of State said the country should focus on training personnel competent in fire matters and asked the Ministry of Higher Education to consider introducing the courses at diploma level.

Ill equipped

Kibaki was speaking at KICC, Nairobi, Wednesday during the commissioning of fire fighting equipment bought by the Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry.

The equipment, which included three fire fighting engines, will be distributed to Nairobi City Council, Thika and Machakos Municipal councils.

Ministers Njeru Githae, Fred Gumo, Beth Mugo, Assistant Ministers Lewis Nguyai, Ferdinand Waititu, Elizabeth Ongoro and Makadara MP Mike Mbuvi attended the function.

City Mayor George Aladwa and Town Clerk Philip Kisia were also present.

Kibaki urged local authorities to work with the police and other relevant partners to mitigate fire outbreaks.

Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Njeru Githae said most local authorities in the country were ill equipped to fight fires since they lack the necessary equipment. "They are ill-prepared for fire disasters," he said.

Githae said his ministry had initiated plans to make the city and other towns within the metropolis safer by erecting high mast lights and streetlights.

Broken down

He said the ministry had also bought fire fighting engines and ambulances for use at several councils countrywide.

"Most of the councils have been tempting fate by failing to put in place fire fighting strategies in their areas. It is very dangerous," said Githae.

Mr Aladwa said the City Council of Nairobi is handicapped in its fire fighting efforts due to lack of reliable engines.

"Most of the council’s fire engines have broken down and cannot be relied upon to respond urgently in case of a fire outbreak," he said.

The mayor said over 23 fire incidents had been reported within the city especially in the slums in the past one month.

Meanwhile, two children were recently burnt to death and several structures destroyed in separate fire incidents that in Nairobi.

The two children died in Nairobi’s Kawangware Estate where about 20 structures were burnt down leaving several homeless.

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