, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 19 – Plans by the government to hold a mass burial for unidentified victims of the Sinai fire disaster has received sharp criticism from Chief Government Pathologist Moses Njue.
Dr Njue described the plans as “tragic, inhuman an insulting” to the families, and instead urged the government to recruit the services of extra DNA specialists to help with the speedy identification of the remains.
“It is going to create untold problems in the days to come and should not happen in Kenya. How, for example, will the death certificates be issued?” he wondered.
He argued that DNA identification is 99 percent accurate, and should therefore be pursued as much as possible.
“This (DNA identification) involves two processes; the closest living relatives give a sample and then we take samples from the remains and then through a detailed scientific process, the two samples are compared,” he outlined.
Dr Njue said putting off the mass burial to allow for DNA testing will also protect the government from possible legal action by victims’ relatives.
“In case of litigation, how will the government be able to stand that dressing down in the courts of law?” Dr Njue posed.
Close to 100 people died in the slum inferno and more remain unaccounted for.
“If it was to cost Sh7 million or Sh8 million to do the DNA for 100 people, that is far better than the embarrassment and the impossibilities that will arise in burying people in mass graves.”
His sentiments were echoed by the National Slum Dwellers Association of Kenya, which has also opposed the mass burial set for this Wednesday.
In a statement, the association said the government should take more time with DNA testing to ensure that as many people are identified as possible.
National Coordinator Sam Okello pointed out that the victims should be laid to rest with respect to traditions and customs and urged the State to give time for DNA testing to determine their identities.
The City Council of Nairobi in the meantime outlined plans to upgrade all informal settlements in the city in the wake of increased fire outbreaks in the slums.
Town Clerk Philip Kisia said the project aims at improving the living conditions in slums and making them safer.
“The government is already working on Kibera. Of course we have over 15 informal settlements in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Sinai, Mathare and other areas. All these places will be addressed. It is something that cannot be achieved in one day not even a year,” he said.
“However, we are confident that over a period of time, it will be delivered.”
He however said that families living on pipeline, rail, power way leaves and water catchment areas will have to be evacuated from those regions.
The settlements targeted are in Kamukunji, Kibera, Makadara, Kasarani and Embakasi constituencies.