NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 13 – The Cabinet has declared Wednesday and Thursday days of national mourning following the Sinai fire disaster that has so far claimed more than 100 lives.
During the two days, the national flag shall fly at half-mast and there will be no celebrations. The days are however not public holidays.
The Cabinet that met under the chairmanship of President Mwai Kibaki also expressed sincere sympathy to the families of those who lost loved ones, wished quick recovery to persons who suffered injuries and sent a message of hope to the many rendered homeless.
The Cabinet promised government support for those afflicted by the fire tragedy.
Earlier on Tuesday, the government had announced that it would pay one year’s rent for people living on designated pipeline way leaves as it helps them relocate to safer areas.
Special Programmes Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh said victims of Monday’s fire at Sinai were currently being registered as the government prepares to roll out a long term assistance programme.
“Some of these informal settlements are actually lying on way leaves and we have to find a permanent solution hence the government solution to give them rent for a period of one year so that they move away from this area,” he said.
“This is because allowing people to continue residing on the way leaves is very dangerous.”
He further emphasised the need for political goodwill especially when people living precariously are being evicted.
“The Ministry of Energy actually paid some people rent for six months. We are not just reacting,” he asserted. The Special Programmes PS further called on motorists to always give ambulances way when they are rushing to save lives.
He lamented that motorists blocked ambulances while they were on their way to the scene of the Sinai fire tragedy.
“We noticed yesterday (Monday) that some motorists were blocking ambulances,” he stated. “We will also be liaising with the Traffic department to take stern action on those blocking ambulances.”
He also enumerated steps the government is taking to assist those affected.
“So far we have three hundred families which were affected by the disaster and we organised for the evacuation of these victims to three social halls within the city,” he stated.
“One hall is at Kaloleni but the majority (of survivors) are at Tom Mboya and also at Mbotela.”
Saboti Member of Parliament Eugene Wamalwa has in the meantime termed it as unfortunate that young people and women were the most affected in the fire tragedy.
He observed that the calamity took place because of extreme poverty which led them to siphon fuel to earn a living.
He urged leaders to do all they can to empower the youth so that they can support themselves.