Tuesday, February 3, 2009



February 03, 2009
Story by: TIMES TEAM

First Lady Lucy Kibaki has censured Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti’s response to the recent two fire tragedies in Nairobi and Nakuru. In uncharacteristic fashion, Ms Kibaki gave a tongue lashing to Prof George Saitoti and accused his Internal Security and Provincial Administration docket of ineptitude over the Sachangw’ani oil tanker tragedy in Molo.

The First Lady spoke hours after State House had announced that President Kibaki had cut short his official visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had been attending the 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) in solidarity with the Kenyans who lost their beloved ones in the petrol tanker fire accident. The First Lady seemed particularly incensed by Prof Saitoti’s statement that Kenyans should learn a lesson from the Molo tragedy.

“How can dead people learn a lesson?” a visibly irritated Lucy posed. And upon President Kibaki’s arrival last evening, he visited survivors of the tragedy admitted in various hospitals in Nairobi. At the same time, the government last evening said the death toll in the oil fire tragedy had reached 120 following the death of seven of the patients who had been flown to Nairobi on Sunday and admitted in various hospitals. Another patient succumbed to injuries at the Nakuru Provincial General Hospital.

A total of six police officers including three General Service Unit officers, two Regular and one Administration Police officer also lost their lives in the tragedy. Four of the officers, according to the government were killed by the explosion at the scene, one died at Annex Hospital in Nakuru, while another who had been airlifted to Nairobi succumbed to injuries at the Kenyatta National Hospital. Meanwhile, a number of foreign governments and diplomatic missions sent messages of condolence over the tragedy.

The United Nations, AU, the Federal Democratic Republic of Germany and the United States embassies in Nairobi were among the missions that sent their condolences. The AU and UN send in their condolences through Dr Jean Ping (AU Commission chairman) and Ban Ki-Moon who delivered the messages when they addressed the opening ceremony of the AU general summit. In her stinging attack on the Ministry of Internal Security, the First Lady even went a step further and demanded for a written explanation from Saitoti’s ministry on why they failed to secure the scene of the incident.

She termed this as “negligence and insensitivity” by the leaders. Ms Kibaki said the incident was man-made and could have been avoided if the Provincial Administration took prompt action to caution the residents of the danger of scooping oil from an overturned tanker. “The administrators should have mobilised the residents out of the scene of death.” A furious Ms Kibaki criticised Prof Saitoti and officials of his ministry over the failure to learn from the past similar incidents in the country.

“It is not the first or the second time this is happening. Even before the explosion the District Officers and Chiefs had enough time to warn the people that is was dangerous to siphon the oil.” “Instead of making a visit when the people are dead, you should go there to give them some (civic) education in good time...that petrol is dangerous and to keep off from man-made dangers.” The First Lady told the Internal Security Ministry to take charge of the situation noting that the country has had enough “unnecessary deaths” since January last year during the post-election violence.

Moments after Lucy’s stinging attack on the Ministry of Internal Security, Prime Minister Raila Odinga disclosed that the government had finalised arrangements to fly in more medical experts to boost local doctors’ efforts. The foreign doctors will be distributed to all hospitals where survivors of the tragedy have been hospitalised, including the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, which absorbed most of the cases, Valley Hospital in Naivasha and Molo sub-district hospital.

“We will be bringing in doctors from India and the United States of America. The government had made the appeal and arrangements have already been finalised. The doctors should jet in today or latest tomorrow,” Raila said noting that the Kenya Airways would fly in the doctors. Raila made the disclosure as it became known that at least seven of the 47 survivors of the Nakuru oil tanker explosion who were airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment died in various city hospitals yesterday.

Those who died included five of the 26 who had been admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) while one of the four admitted to the Nairobi Hospital also succumbed to burns. Another patient died at the Aga Khan Hospital. At least 13 others are still undergoing treatment at the Mater Hospital. Four patients had been admitted to Aga Khan. At the same time, Raila said he would give instructions to relevant government ministries and departments to provide the hospital with special meals for the victims hospitalized.