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Sinai fire victims sue for damages

Wednesday May 9 2012

Photo/FILE Residents mourn their loved ones killed in a fire that swept through Sinai slum in Nairobi’s Industrial Area on September 12, 2011. Victims of the Sinai slum fire have sued the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for losses and damages.

Photo/FILE Residents mourn their loved ones killed in a fire that swept through Sinai slum in Nairobi’s Industrial Area on September 12, 2011. Victims of the Sinai slum fire have sued the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for losses and damages. 

By PAUL OGEMBA [email protected]

Victims of the Sinai slum fire have sued the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) for losses and damages.

Represented by six lawyers led by Mr Paul Muite, the 102 victims say the KPC, City Council of Nairobi and National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) should be held responsible for negligence and breach of statutory duties that resulted in the fire.

The victims submitted that at the time of the fire, they were occupants, workers or visitors in the Sinai Settlement Scheme near Industrial Area in Nairobi.

“On September 12, 2011, while the victims were in their residences, KPC negligently and in breach of its duties allowed flammable petroleum products to run through waste water drainage dug by the CCN, which burned the victims and caused massive damage to property,” said Mr Muite.

The victims accuse KPC of failing to store a highly flammable liquid in a proper manner and letting it escape.

They say the company did not keep its machinery, plant and pipes in a proper state of maintenance and failed to warn or notify them of the impending danger.

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The victims accuse the city council of building a waste water shaft through the area and allowing KPC to use the duct to dispose of its waste.

“The council failed to ensure the waste water tunnel was in good condition and through negligence, exposed the victims to hazardous waste from the pipeline company,” said Mr Muite.

Nema is accused of failing to ensure that KPC disposed of its waste in a proper manner and not warning residents of the dangers they were exposed to.

The victims said Nema should be held responsible for not taking adequate measures to safeguard the area inhabited by Sinai residents and for failing to instruct CCN to ensure the waste disposal tunnels were in good condition.

As a result of the alleged negligence and breach of statutory duties by KPC, CCN and Nema, the victims claim they suffered loss of life to friends and relatives, incurred burns and body injuries and loss of property.

“Some victims were working as masons to earn a living but as a result of the burns, they have not been able to work while others will require medical attention for the rest of their lives,” said Mr Muite.

The victims submitted that despite a demand notice to KPC, CCN and Nema of their intention to sue, the parties had refused to reply or take their claims seriously.

The tragedy, which occurred in September last year, claimed 119 lives and left scores with severe burns.

The fire happened after oil that had spilled from a leak in the pipeline ignited. (READ: Fire probe ignored victims, says lobby)