Embakasi gas explosion survivors to wait longer for compensation

ODM leader Raila Odinga meets with victims of the Embakasi gas explosion at a Social Hall where they've been putting up since the tragedy that had seven people perish. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Twenty-seven days after the Embakasi gas explosion killed seven people and left more than 200 injured, the government is yet to compensate the survivors.

It now seems the victims may wait longer for compensation after Energy Cabinet Secretary, Davis Chirchir told a joint parliamentary committee probing the gas explosion that the issue was being handled by the National Emergency Response Committee chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Chirchir was however pressed to explain why victims are yet to be compensated despite the government assuring that they would put in place measures to assist the affected families with food and shelter.

When the Deputy President visited the victims in February, he promised to fully support them.

"We need an exact date when victims should expect their compensation. They were promised by the Deputy President but nothing has come out yet. Can the CS tell us when the victims should expect the compensation?" Posed Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna.

Chirchir said he did not have a definite answer as the matter was not in his hands at the moment though he promised to follow up with the relevant committee to ensure the victims are compensated

"The matter is not in my hands. It’s in another body if it was in my jurisdiction, I would have said within a week the victims will be compensated but I cannot say that. However, i will follow up to ensure they are compensated. I will as early as this afternoon (Thursday) find out the status of the committee," he said.

It also emerged that the truck driver of the tanker that exploded diverted and went to the unlicensed plant to refill gas cylinders 

Energy Petroleum and Regulatory Authority (Epra) Director General Daniel Kiptoo who appeared before National Assembly Energy Committee at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, Thursday said their preliminary findings show that the driver diverted under the cover of darkness and went to fill in cylinders where he wasn’t supposed to go.

He said that the site was not licensed by Epra for storage and filling of LPG

The authority said that the road tanker of registration KBJ 185x zd2234 is registered to one Abraham Mwangi Nguyo 

It’s said that Mwangi who was operating under the business name Klear Mwiki Suppliers was licensed by Epra to transport Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in bulk by road under license no epra/lpg/10342 to a licensed firm but he diverted in the middle of the night to the said location that is a residential area.

"The truck was supposed to go to a licensed facility but it was diverted to this garage which was operating as a garage by day and an illegal premise at night," Kiptoo said

The Epra boss further told the committee chaired by Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka that the truck which was licensed had obtained the gas from Tanzania and came to Nairobi through the Oloitoktok border point and as a “common practice the driver decided to go to an illegal plant."

“We have come to understand that the diversion is a norm that the trucks would pass there before heading to the licensed facility," he said

"It was confirmed that the site which was denied license thrice in 2023 was operating as a garage during the day and filing station in the wee hours of the night. The proprietor had made three applications for construction permit on March 19, June 20 and July 31, 2023 which were all rejected,” he added.

Kiptoo said the application was rejected because the company never provided the requested qualitative risk management assessment. The assessment was to indicate the radiation blast profile in case of an explosion

It was also revealed that three days prior to the blast the proprietor who also owns Maxxis Nyanyuki Energy was operating illegally by providing gas to other companies not registered to the company 

“Three days before the incident at the licensing plant in Nanyuki we found out the facility filling cylinders of other companies and we apprehended them took them to court and they were charged," Kitoo said.

The committee wondered how the plant operated for years illegally without the knowledge of Epra. They questioned why the Ministry of Energy allowed the plant to continue operating despite the license application having been rejected

Kiptoo noted that of the 138 facilities registered so far, the regulator has closed down 49 which are near residential areas or are below 50 per cent of the technical score.

“We are now implementing the track and race system so that we are able to track the trucks and cylinders in the country when anything is diverted, we can now tell," he said

The companies that have been shut down are based in Nairobi, Homabay, Kisii, Trans Nzoia, Meru, Machakos, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Laikipia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kirinyaga, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties.

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