Senate summons Energy CS, Epra boss over Embakasi gas explosion

Energy and Petroleum CS Davis Chirchir when he appeared before the National Dialogue Committee at Bomas of Kenya on November 06, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Senate has summoned the Energy Cabinet Secretary Davies Chirchir and Energy Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) Director General Daniel Kiptoo to shed light over the Embakasi gas explosion that killed at least 10 people.

This is after the CS failed to honour an invite to appear in the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Energy Committee members were irked over the failure of Chirchir to honour the invite after sending a letter explaining he is out of the country on official business requesting to appear on a later date wondering why he did not give the matter the attention it deserved.

The Committee Chairman Wahome Wamatinga said this was a serious matter and Kenyans wanted to know what the Ministry of Energy and Epra were doing to prevent the gas explosion in future and how the victims are being assisted.

“When we have several people dead and hundreds of others injured, that matter should be given the highest priority. We do not understand why the Energy Cabinet Secretary decided to give priority to other matters at the expense of this. We find this unacceptable,” said Wamatinga.

The Nyeri Senator said that the committee is out to establish why the Energy Ministry and Epra allowed the gas filling station to operate in a residential area and the locations of such installations across the country.

Wamatinga revealed that the committee will make a physical inspection of the facilities before another disaster happens since cases of gas explosion and operation of illegal LPG filling stations are common across the country due to negligence by state agencies regulating the energy sector.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, was categorical that the Energy Ministry and Epra are either incompetent or are simply abdicating their responsibilities of regulating the energy sector and protecting Kenyans from danger.

Sifuna said Kenyans, especially Nairobi residents are living in danger due to the proliferation of illegal gas and petrol stations and the authorities need to come up with stringent measures to prevent incidents of gas explosion due to negligence or greed of state officials.

“All Kenyans are at risk it is not only the poor people. We see people open petrol stations and gas filling plants in congested residential areas which I think expose Kenyans to danger. This should not be allowed to happen under our watch,” he said.

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana called for the immediate summoning of the Cabinet Secretary, saying that the committee should consider a censure motion against Chirchir if he fails to show up next Tuesday since this is a matter of public interest.

Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga criticized Chirchir for showing contempt to the committee by failing to turn up saying that in other countries the CS could not handle other engagements before attending to such a matter of grave concern to the citizens whose lives were at risk.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino who attended the meeting as a friend of the committee, noted that 10 people died in the gas explosion while more than 300 others were injured and called for measures to prevent occurrence of the incident in future.

On February 6, a truck ferrying Liquefied Petroleum Gas exploded in Mradi estate, Embakasi, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

Authorities said the LPG refiling plant operated illegally.