Anxiety as oxygen plants in Nakuru, Siaya break down

Hewatele Oxygen plant operator Kevin Onyango refills Oxygen cylinders at the plant at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) on March 31, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

There was panic in various health facilities in Nakuru and Siaya counties after two plants that supply them with medical oxygen stopped production after their machines malfunctioned.

The two plants, belonging to a firm called Hewatele, stopped production of oxygen for about four hours on Monday night.

This came as reports indicated three patients had died of Covid-19-related complications in Nakuru County due to lack of oxygen.

However, county health executive Gichuki Kariuki dismissed the reports saying the patients did not die due to lack of oxygen.

“None of the patients who died yesterday had missed oxygen. When the machine at the plant broke down, we obtained some supplies from other counties as the engineers worked to restore production at the oxygen plant,” said Gichuki.

Hewatele oxygen plant, located at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, broke down on Monday night, causing panic among those in need of medical oxygen.

Dr Gichuki yesterday said county hospital had to source for oxygen from neighbouring counties during the period Hewatele, which has partnered with the county government for production of oxygen, had stopped production.

Hewatele CEO Zulfiqar Wali said: "We were forced to temporarily stop production. However, our engineers managed to restore the system and we were able to resume production of oxygen. Our operations will continue to run around the clock as has been the case."

"The machine often breaks down because it is always working. The quality of oxygen it produces had also dropped," said Wali.

In a day, the plant in Nakuru refills about 80 sixty-litre cylinders. This makes just about half of the orders we receive, Wali said.

He said the breakdown of the machine came at a time their other plant in Siaya County had also malfunctioned.

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Nakuru Hewatele