The county government of Bomet has said it is buying a new fire engine worth Sh45 million, in the wake of a deadly fire at Tenwek Mission Hospital which was largely blamed on poor disaster response.
Governor Joyce Laboso said two more engines will be purchased in subsequent financial years to ensure that each of the two sub-counties has a truck for effectiveness.
She made the remarks after touring the hospital where fire gutted down a building on Friday evening.
"The fire at the hospital was so unfortunate. My administration will provide assistance so that its operations are not affected," said Dr Laboso.
She led a team of senior government officials to assess the damage caused by fire at the facility, including Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, Principal Secretaries Peter Tum (Health) and Julius Korir (Roads) and Deputy Governor Hillary Barchok.
Other leaders who were present were Bomet Senator Christopher Langat, Women Rep Joyce Korir, Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui, Bomet East MP Beatrice Kones, Bomet County Assembly Speaker David Rotich and a host of MCAs.
The county has been criticised for slow and disorganised disaster response which was evident in five different instances of fire break out in the last six months.
In defence, the county said that the two “substandard” fire trucks bought under former Governor Isaac Ruto’s regime have broken down while another is missing.
The County Chief Executive Committee officer for Trade and Tourism Bernard Ngeno, who was the chairman of the budget and appropriation committee in the previous County Assembly said they had budgeted Sh50 million to purchase a standard fire engine, but that Mr Ruto bought “Tata” lorries and fitted them with car wash machines instead.
“Besides, they are faulty and require about Sh7 million to repair,” he said.
He said the cabinet has found it economical to purchase another truck worth about Sh45 million instead of repairing the "unfit" ones.
The Friday fire razed an entire storey housing kitchen, restaurant, hospital records office, the wound ward, food store and dry cleaning unit.
It took industrious residents and staff (including Mr Ruto) using fire extinguishers and buckets of water to contain the inferno from spreading to the wards and a boiler nearby.
Fire fighting trucks from Kericho and Narok counties arrived at the scene late to find the fire already out.
Mr Ngeno said they will purchase two more fire trucks in the subsequent financial years so that one serves Chepalungu and Bomet East sub-counties, the other Konoin and
They will also educate the public on safety and disaster management and improve on quick response strategies.
In order to have a lasting solution, he said the county also plans to train audit and train staff to ensure that those with the right expertise are in office.
“Whereas Narok and Bomet prioritised well and invested in standard fire fighters, Bomet wasted it's money. We now have to start it all over again,” the CEC told Nation.