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JKIA fire has proved Kenya never learns from the past

By letters | August 8th 2013 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

A half century of independence should have made a difference in Kenya’s emergency response capability, but the fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has proven otherwise.

For a country that spares no effort in chest-thumping, this is a horrible humiliation. A minor calamity can easily take our country back to the stone age! And it is time we gave security officers hands-on fire fighting skills.

What is the use of having 200 gun-totting servicemen swarming all over the place hindering the work of two dozen firefighters? The JKIA scenario can be replicated all over the country: Hospitals, schools, universities, factories, name it, have no emergency preparedness whatsoever.

Government functionaries will do the usual honours (of the we-will-leave-no-stone-unturned variety) but we know it shall be business-as-usual in next to no time. The year 2030 is only 16 short years away and at the pace we are going, Vision 2030 is fast turning from a collective fantasy to a disjointed meaningless phantasm.

{Cosmas Ronno, Eldoret}

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The bizarre inferno at JKIA is one of the worst tragedies to have happened to our country in the recent past. This is going to have a negative impact on our fragile economy.

It is saddening that this has come shortly after JKIA was voted one of the best airports in Africa in the World Routes Airport Marketing Awards 2013. This is the largest and busiest aviation facility in East Africa and its importance cannot be gainsaid.

Unfortunately, whenever we are hit by a tragedy of this magnitude, we always appear ill-prepared. Disaster preparedness is wanting in our country.

{Samson Mukalo, Limuru}

The way Kenyans fight fires leaves a lot to be desired. There is always a hitch with water, or inefficiency in the methods employed. There was a report in the media recently that the Nairobi fire brigade did not have functional fire engines that scared me to the bone. There ought to be an air rescue team on standby all the time at strategic points in the country to quickly respond to disasters, rescue people in distress and fight fires.

{Job Momanyi, Nairobi}

Today marks 15 years since the US Embassy in Nairobi was bombed by the notorious Al Qaeda. Coincidentally, Nairobi suffered another tragedy yesterday  after part of JKIA caught fire. We have had several fire incidents in the recent past and it is apparent we never learn from them.

The country needs to equip fire fighters with up to date skills and techniques.

{Chrispus Wekesa, Eldoret}

It is not clear when exactly the JKIA inferno broke out. But one thing is clear; our disaster management is wanting. The Government must wake up. For heaven’s sake, this is an international airport! What are the CCTV cameras at  the airport for if not to monitor the buildings and ensure alarms are sounded in good time? Are there fire/smoke alarms in the buildings?

{Vincent Onoka, Maseno}

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport emergency response fire outbreak
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