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Another oil spillage in Nairobi revives horrors of Sinai fire tragedy

By Moses Michira | April 20th 2016
Kenya Pipeline Company fire fighters contain a fire threat along the company's sewerage line yesterday. [PHOTO: MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD]

George Njoroge was only 25 when he lost his two little children in the Sinai fire tragedy five years ago. And yesterday, the now heavily-bearded man relived horrific memories as fire fighters struggled to avert another deadly disaster reminiscent of the one that occurred in September 2011 and killed more than 100 slum dwellers.

Strong petrol fumes soaked through the same sewerage line that brought the deadly fuel spill, whose victims included Njoroge's children - a four-year old son and two-year-old daughter.

"These are the scars from 2011. Nothing has been done to manage the oil spillage ever since," Njoroge told The Standard yesterday, showing healed burns sustained on his elbows as he unsuccessfully tried to rescue his sleeping children.

Pressurised fuel fumes blew off several man-hole covers yesterday along the sewerage line in loud explosions that disrupted the busy life in the slum.

 Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) Safety Department staff blamed the slum dwellers for lighting fires and illegal electricity connections close to the sewerage line, causing the resultant explosions as the fuel fumes got exposed to heat.

Panic spread throughout the slum - where the memories and the damage left by the 2011 fire tragedy still remains fresh and in nearby offices and factories.

Lunga Lunga Road was closed for most of the morning as the fire fighters from KPC and other private firms arrived and started fighting the threat.

As fire engines were arriving to neutralise the mounting threat of a fire disaster, Njoroge was busy winding up the construction of a latrine on top of the sewerage line.

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"This is my property investment because people here are just starting to rebuild their lives and need to use this facility," he added, pointing to the latrine and his new home, also built on the edge of the sewerage line.

He would be moving into the 'new' shanty any time this week after the visibly fresh cement floor has dried in a compound secured by a perimeter wall erected using rusty iron sheets that survived the last fire.

Njoroge, whose sister-in-law also perished in the fire, has replaced the parcel of pigs he lost in the disaster and said he knew no other home to ever go to.

His younger brother, Samuel Kamau, another survivor of the 2011 fire, is his farming partner and prospective landlord.

Victims of the Sinai fire have sued KPC over negligence on managing the dangerous waste including leakages of high inflammable products. The matter is pending determination before a Nairobi court.

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