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Sakaja’s absence sends residents tongues wagging

Tuesday, February 6th, 2024 12:50 | By
MCAs probe Nairobi ‘erratic’ system
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja during a past event. PHOTO/David Ndolo

The absence of Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja since the Embakasi gas tragedy that has left over five people dead and scores with serious injuries has raised eyebrows with residents asking about his whereabouts.

Governor Sakaja has been conspicuously missing for the past four days since the Embakasi gas explosion even as victims accused the Nairobi County government owned health facilities of referring them to purchase medicines from private facilities.

Save for a few senior Nairobi county government officials turning up at the scene and visiting the survivors in various hospitals, most of the activities such as coordination of rescue efforts, resettlement of those displaced and assistance to those hospitalised have mainly been undertaken by the local MP Babu Owino. On Sunday, Owino handed over a donation of Sh 1 million from Azimio principal Raila Odinga.

Despite high profile leaders taking time to visit the families including Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Sakaja has been missing in action with the county leaders cagey about his whereabouts.

“The governor is around and monitoring the situation from where he is ,” Kileleshwa MCA Robert Alai curtly told the People Daily by telephone.

On official duty

Though sources have indicated to People Daily that the governor has been out of the country, no one was willing to confirm whether he was out on official duty or not.

When contacted yesterday, Director Communication in the Office of the Governor Pricilla Wangui told People Daily the governor was in the country without offering much details.

“The governor is very much around. Even if you wanted to have a meeting with him tomorrow just book an appointment and you will find him,” said Wangui.

The Nairobi County Director of Communications Beryl Okundi was even more ambiguous in her response: “The governor is well.”

Neither has Sakaja’s deputy Njoroge Muchiri visited the survivors in hospitals and those displaced, fuelling more speculation and conspiracy theories among Nairobians.

Instead, Sakaja has been relying on his social media accounts to update city residents on the latest news on the tragedy.

City residents now claim that the governor has left them on their own as some of them have been referred to private chemists to buy drugs due to the biting shortage.

However, CECM, Health CEC Suzanne Silantoi has clarified that every effort has been made to provide comprehensive medical care to those affected.

“Contrary to the insinuations of chaos and disarray, Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital operated seamlessly, conducting 50 X-rays, 10 ultrasounds, and eight CT scans. There were zero fatalities in the hospital,” She stated.

Night gas fire

Yesterday, acting-County Secretary Patrick Analo said 761 people were affected by the Thursday night gas fire in Embakasi.

“The county has established that 148 households were affected by the blast, 761 people were affected, 50 businesses were burned and there are still 15 people who can’t trace their family,” he said.

The acting county secretary said that 15 people are minors and children whose parents have not been identified.

County officials confirmed the number of those seeking shelter to be 30 people. Those affected will be provided with psychosocial support and medical fees waived, according to the county government.

“Nairobi City County Government and partners are continuing with integrating displaced families into the community following the tracing and verification of the displaced persons that was done over the weekend and expected to be completed by end of day today,” Analo said in a statement issued yesterday.

Analo also said there was a gas smell reported at the blast site this morning and the county fire officials have taken the appropriate precautionary measures to prevent another incident.

He said there are seven ambulances on standby and the residents have been evacuated from the area.

Analo disclosed that the County Government, Urban Planning sub-sector in collaboration with National Construction Authority (NCA) and National Building Inspectorate will undertake structural integrity tests on all buildings that were affected by the gas explosion and fire and advise on the next cause of action which may include but not limited to evacuation of the tenants.

He disclosed that the county will partner with some donors to offer financial support to the victims to help address immediate needs and aid in long-term reconstruction efforts.

The tragic aftermath of the Embakasi gas explosion has seen the death toll climb to six as three more victims succumbed to their burns while undergoing treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Dozens of other victims remain hospitalized with serious burns in various medical facilities across the city, including at least 20 individuals referred to KNH due to the severity of their injuries. “We regret to report that three more individuals have succumbed to their injuries raising the death toll from the Embakasi Fire incident to six,” Government Spokesman Isaac Mwaura said in a statement yesterday.

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