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Daily Nation : February 23rd 2014
SUNDAY NATION Sunday February 23, 2014 explosion that left him an orphan feature STATE OF AFFAIRS Illegal refill of LPG cylinders a ticking time bomb, experts say BY ALLAN OLINGO @allanolingo email@example.com When we walked into the Mr Davies Onchiri with his children. February 2, how can I forget this day? Sweet words can be forgotten with time but not painful events that pierce your heart like sharp nails. On that day my parents and their four children were at our home in Mlolongo trading centre in Machakos County when the cruel hand of death knocked at our door. My dad was an employee of Otange Transport Company, whose buses ply the Nairobi, Mombasa, Migori and Kisii routes while my mum was a fresh vegetable trader in Mlolongo. When the burial ceremony ended, it marked the beginning of another chapter for me and my two siblings. I had read of sad incidents in story books and watched horror movies, but this time, it had happened to me. As mourners left the compound one after the other, I looked at the three graves dug side by side. I could have been among the dead; but I kept reassuring myself that God had a purpose for letting me live. As relatives and other mourners came over to me to offer me words of encouragement, I remembered the words of one of my school teachers who one time, while in the middle of a lesson, said: “Life is full of unpredictable moments. One minute you are having fun with your family members, the next moment they are all gone. Life is full of ups and downs but the thing is not to allow the downs to ruin the ups’’. Donations Meanwhile, the Nyamira Governor John Nyagarama has launched an education fund to help the three children left behind following the fire tragedy. The fund will ensure the three boys continue with their education. He urged well-wishers to contribute to the fund to ensure the young boys don’t drop out of school. Leaders at the funeral said the trag- edy should be investigated to establish whether the gas cylinder was faulty to avoid future accidents. Hundreds of mourners who attended the emotional ceremony at Rigoma secondary School in Nyamira County, were also urged to exercise great care when using gas, electricity and other highly flammable fuels at home, especially The wall of this house in Mathare, Nairobi, was ripped apart after a cylinder exploded last year in one of the many such incidents reported. compound, it looked like a scene from a violent movie. Glass from the windows was scattered all over while the kitchen was covered in black smoke and metal fragments were strewn on the floor. This was no make-believe. It was a house in Nairobi’s Kahawa West estate that Lifestyle visited last November after a gas cylinder exploded. The owner had just bought a 6kg cylinder from an estate kiosk for Sh1,060 — something she had done countless times. But this time, things went horribly wrong. Luckily, there were no deaths or injuries. This is unlike in the recent Mlolongo incident where investigations are ongoing into the cause of the gas cylinder explosion. Experts have over the years been warning of the rise in the sale of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders filled at illegal outlets that pose a danger to consumers. Most of the cylinders find their way to shops located in city estates. Mr Johnson Adera, the Anti- Counterfeit Agency deputy enforcement and legal services director, warns that gas cylinders filled in these illegal facilities are not safe. “The machines and equip- ment used in these go-downs, some of them in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, and other filling points are sub-standard. They do not meet the safety standards set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” says Mr Adera. He said that when sub- standard equiment is used to fill the cylinders with gas, more often than not, the nozzles are not well adjusted which creates the possibility of a leakage. “It is important for consum- ers to buy cylinders at registered outlets such as petrol stations and supermarkets,” says Mr Adera. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR CONSUMERS TO BUY CYLINDERS AT REGISTERED OUTLETS SUCH AS PETROL STATIONS,” Mr Adera Last year, the Kenya Bureau of Standards raised concern that these unscrupulous traders had outlets in rural areas, informal settlements and residential estates. And the then ERC Director General Kaburu Mwirichia promised a crackdown on the illegal outlets to dismantle such facilities and arrest those behind them. Growth in demand for cooking gas has been cited as among the main factors fuelling growth of the illicit dealers. Statistics are scanty, but multiple sources within the oil industry say the black market could account for as much as 30 per cent of LPG that is consumed in Kenya. ERC, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency and the police have in the past raided outlets in Nairobi’s Industrial Area where they confiscated assorted LPG cylinders. The General Manager of Pe- troleum Institute of East Africa Wanjiku Manyara says that the LPG market faces a myriad of challenges. “We know that the market is facing challenges from black market activities. We have seen an increase in unlicensed refilling plants and dangerous transportation of cylinders. These pose a danger to consumers,” she says. “The enforcement of laws has been a challenge but the government will set up an independent inspection agency to monitor LPG related businesses.” According to her, the independent agency will also ensure that all cylinders have undergone re-qualification and inspection before they are refilled and stamped with an expiry date. Mr Adera accused major oil companies and the police of not doing enough to curtail the illegal refill of gas cylinders. “Even if we carry out raids and confiscate these cylinders, we do not have a case if experts from the oil companies fail to appear in court.”” Lifestyle 5 FILE | NATION A woman holds a piece of what used to be a gas cylinder which exploded at Kahawa West, Nairobi, last year. The owner had bought is at a supermarket in the estate.
February 22nd 2014
February 24th 2014