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Hand over fuel siphoned from Siaya tanker, PIEA tells residents

By Too Jared | July 20th 2021

Locals at the scene where a fuel tanker exploded in Malanga Village, Gem sub-county, Siaya County on Saturday. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) is calling on the residents of Malanga in Gem, Siaya County, to hand over fuel siphoned off from a tanker that overturned and caught fire at the weekend.

The explosion from the tanker, after it was involved in a crash with a lorry hauling milk late Saturday, left 15 people dead and dozens wounded. 

In a statement, PIEA warned that fuel stored improperly in dwellings pose a risk to the residents as it could cause another flash fire or explosion and lead to more death and injuries.

“We wish to implore on residents of the affected areas who, we understand from media reports, went to scoop the fuel that had spilled over from the tanker, to please desist from storing the fuel in their houses and instead to please hand it over to the security personnel so as to prevent the occurrence of other fires in the area,” urged PIEA.

According to PIEA, fuel should be stored in “carefully designed petroleum fuel receptacles” and not in jerrycans as vapours around non-compliant fuel containers could ignite and explode at the slightest spark.

“Inhaling petroleum fuels is equally harmful and has long term adverse health effects and therefore the public must stay well away from the accident area as high concentrations of vapour reduces oxygen available for breathing which means suffocation may also occur,” added PIEA.

The agency went on to urge the public to desist from buying fuel from undesignated areas and unlicensed dealers.

“It is dangerous to sell, buy or use scooped petroleum fuel because you may use motor spirit (petrol) in a cooking or lighting stove thinking that is kerosene and an explosion will occur causing untold suffering. It is not worth the money, saving or your life,” stated PIEA.

Despite the July 19 warning of the dangers of siphoning and a plea by ODM leader Raila Odinga, police in Kisumu had to restrain locals and seal off an accident scene on Monday after residents rushed to scoop fuel from another overturned tanker.

The fuel truck, which was headed to Ahero from Kondele, was involved in an accident at the Kasagam interchange along the Kisumu-Nairobi-Kondele highway in Kolwa East at 7:30pm.

“The bend was too sharp for the driver of the Scania truck to manoeuvre,” said the police.

Speaking after the Malanga accident, Odinga called for awareness on petroleum products and the risk involved.

“As we mourn and reflect, I hope against hope that this may be the last time our people are dying out of a scramble for fuel from an overturned tanker. Our people may learn to run away, not towards such scenes in the future," said Odinga. 

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