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Government let us down and promised 'hot air', victims say

Nairobi
 

The family of the late Austin Shivanda at his house on February 3, 2024 next to the yard where the the gas explosion occurred. [Boniface Okendo, Standard] 

The sight of twisted metal all over is a grim reminder of the deadly gas explosion at Embakasi's Mradi estate where seven lives were lost, hundreds injured and property destroyed.

Although the wish of residents is to forget the tragic fire incident, the presence of metal debris conjures images of what happened on the night of February 1.

While some might have moved on, the scars are still fresh. For victims, it is agony, pain and trauma eating into their lives even as the government promised to help them recover.

 

Henry Kioko, a driver nursing several burns on his head, back and hands, shared his heart-wrenching experiences after the tragedy that he says turned his life upside down.

"What I encountered stalled my life. I was from work and heard an explosion. The fire was caused by a tanker that was moving towards the gate while refilling other cylinders. The operators got overwhelmed when closing the valve and ran away," recounted Kioko yesterday.

"I witnessed people burning in their clothes. I sought refuge in a sewage ditch. We saw death, I watched someone perish but there was nothing I could do," he added. 

The man is crying for help as he cannot make it to work to fend for his family, he "pities" himself, wondering if life will get back to normal and accuses government of issuing empty promises.

Another victim, Gabriel Gramptom narrated horrible experiences that he blamed on negligence by authorities, who he claimed do not value human life.

Grappling with pains from burnt hands, Grampton says life has become unbearable. "This thing (illegal plant) has been there for long but no leader is taking a step to bring to an end to these illegal businesses in residential areas," he says. 

Cleophas Lumumba, another bereaved witness who lost his father to the inferno, shared his experience relating how he struggled to safe the life of his dad.

"There was no emergency response, I struggled for 30 minutes to take him to hospital. I was the third to reach Mama Lucy Hospital. It was a rough experience at the hospital because of shortage of equipment. They demanded payment first before he was attended to," recalled Lumumba.  

Such is the tales of victims and those affected by the explosion blamed on negligence by enforcing agencies that failed to stop the gas refiling business.

It has been intriguing how the authorities allowed the proprietor to continue with the illegal operations even after he was convicted by court.

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