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Mayor admits hiccups in disaster response

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Nairobi Mayor Godfrey Majiwa admitted on Thursday that the City Council lacked a proper disaster management system to respond to major emergencies.

During a press conference at his Parlour, he said the council neither had adequate fire-fighting equipment. Mr Majiwa said that they had only five working fire-trucks out of the eight vehicles allocated to the council.

“We tried all we could with the equipment that we have. It is also for the government to know that the City Council does not have equipment to fight such a fire. It was a big fire that required others to come in and help,” he stressed.

Mr Majiwa said the council needed about 24 more fire-fighting vehicles to be distributed in the eight divisions in Nairobi.

He asked the government to allocate more resources to help them purchase machines that could deal with big fires.

The Mayor also revealed that the council only had two hydrants (water tanks), which were not enough to put out the Nakumatt Downtown inferno.

He however said the blaze was taking too long to go off, because its cause was still unclear; “But we have our team of explosives experts looking at what might have caused the fire.”

Mr Majiwa said other fire fighting companies that were helping the City Council to extinguish the inferno were also depending on the very same water hydrants, though according to the City Council by-laws that is illegal.

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He said soon he would soon hold a meeting to change the by-laws, to allow other companies to use the council’s water stocks in cases of such emergencies.

“Other companies were drawing water from our hydrants, but I could not stop them because the fire was big and we needed to stop it.”

Nairobi buildings not inspected

Mr Majiwa at the same time accused building owners of refusing to have their buildings inspected, and calling in the big guns to back them up.

He revealed that on Monday, City Council workers were involved in a tussle with one of the big supermarkets in the country after attempts to inspect one of their buildings.

The Mayor further noted that many buildings still did not have fire exits: “They keep on running to the big offices to say that they are being harassed by the City Council. We have been trying to carry out inspections, but it is very difficult.”

He said the council would continue carrying out inspections and those who defied the safety regulations would have to face the law.

Meanwhile, the City Council Structure Engineer Brian Chunguli has appealed to the members of public to familiarise themselves with the councils hotlines – 2222181/2/3.

He said it was important for the public to also get awareness training in case they had to help or relay emergency messages.

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