Tuesday, December 22, 2009

‘Flying toilets’ to blame for crash

Residents of Kibera slums rushed to the scene after a train bound for Uganda derailed and flattened some shanties on Monday. While some tried to rescue those trapped under the train, others looted the wagons, two of which contained cooking oil. Seven people are feared to have died. Photos/CHRIS OJOW

Residents of Kibera slums rushed to the scene after a train bound for Uganda derailed and flattened some shanties on Monday. While some tried to rescue those trapped under the train, others looted the wagons, two of which contained cooking oil. Seven people are feared to have died. Photos/CHRIS OJOW 

By KIBIWOTT KOROSS

Rift Valley Railways on Tuesday blamed “flying toilets” for the train crash that killed two people in Kibera.

RVR executive chairman Brown Ondego said the accident was caused by excessive wheel slip in Mashimoni area.

“This condition is due to poor drainage on the track that is occasioned by “flying toilets”, which have turned major parts of the line into open sewage drains and ponds,” Mr Ondego said.

He added that encroachment and human traffic on the line had made it difficult for the company to maintain it.

Because of lack of latrines in the slum, many dwellers relieve themselves in plastic bags and then hurl the waste on the railway line.

Following the Monday accident, Mr Ondego said that commuter train services to Kibera, Dagoreti and Kikuyu had been temporarily suspended, but added that efforts were being made to resume services.

At the same time, the Kenya Red Cross Society on Tusday said that two bodies had been recovered from the crash site as rescue efforts continued for the second day.

KRCS response manager Davies Okoko said the team had not received any reports of missing persons in the area.

Mr Ondego said the extent of casualties will only be known after the containers are removed.

By Tuesday afternoon, RVR personnel and local residents were making frantic efforts to lift four wagons, which are feared to have trapped more people.

Hopes dampened

But hopes were dampened when a crane failed to lift the wagons.

The train, which was headed for Kampala with a load of cooking oil, derailed and slammed into passers-by who were walking beside the rail track on Monday morning. It then crashed into shanties along the railway line.

Mr Moses Oyoo, who escaped unhurt, recounted how the wagons began to sway as the goods train negotiated a bend about 300 metres from where he was walking.

“I was walking near the rail line and was lucky because the train fell on the opposite side,” he said.

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