NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – President Mwai Kibaki has ordered the Provincial Administration to control settlement in landslide prone areas, following an incident that killed eight people and injured eight others in Nairobi’s Mathare 4A slum on Wednesday.
In a statement, President Kibaki said there was need for pre-emptive and preventative steps to be taken to avoid the occurrence of such disasters, especially now that the long rains have begun in many parts of the country.
The Head of State said the all relevant government agencies should avoid excessive red tape and bureaucracy and provide necessary equipment in times of emergencies.
Among those killed in Wednesday’s landslide, were a woman and her son, two brothers and a child.
Witnesses complained that the bodies remained trapped beneath the rubble for hours as rescuers from the Kenya Police, National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya Red Cross and the military worked to retrieve them.
The rescue operation was hampered by lack of appropriate equipment, heavy rains and poor access to the area. The officers also had a difficult time controlling the crowd that milled around the scene.
Earthmovers from the city council and the NYS started arriving at the scene two hours later and the rescuers were forced to demolish some structures to clear the way for the equipment.
“Members of the public have been sensitised to keep off scenes of disaster. Heavy crowding in disaster scenes not only delays rescue operations but also places members of the public in danger of harm,” read the president’s statement.
The president has also directed that persons who live near riverbanks or who have built in flood prone areas be moved to higher grounds to avoid being victims of flooding.
The president’s statement came as the Ministry of Special Programmes issued a landslide alert in several parts of the country following the onset of the long rains.
In a statement, Special Programmes Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh said “there is a high likelihood of flooding, landslides and lightning incidences occurring in the River basins of Nzoia, Nyando, Yala and Galana.”
He added this could lead to the possible displacement of people in the areas affected.
A deluge is also expected in Budalangi, Nyando and Ahero while in the Coastal region, the areas that will be affected include Garsen and Lamu.
The public has also been urged to take precautions in parts of Western, Nyanza, the Central Rift and the South Rift areas.
Meanwhile, following the Mathare 4A disaster which claimed eight lives, an emergency meeting was called at the Prime Minister’s office to discuss the status of the disaster and evaluate the required humanitarian assistance resolved that the committee that had handled the Sinai fire disaster should be re-activated to immediately handle the disaster.