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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Stakeholders in Machakos county are up in arms against the county government emergency and rescue team over poor emergency services at the fire fighting department.
Speaking to Weekly Citizen, stakeholders accused the county government of failure to stand firm saying the concerned officials from emergency department have failed to deliver and provide services to the residents as expected.
A spotcheck shows that the department cannot respond to fires since alleged misuse of emergency equipment have brought the fire department to its knees, making it extremely impossible to render services.
Should there be an inferno, the brigade can only watch from a distance as it is only operating one fire engine which cannot cope.
Last week, fire broke out and burned down a two-storey building near Katoloni market on the outskirts of the busy Machakos town.
Fire fighters from the Machakos county government spent more than two hours to put out the 3 pm inferno.
Fire fighters arrived late and in insufficient numbers and without enough water.
According to eye witness, the fire started in one of the rooms causing a gas cylinder to explode.
The fire spread fast to other rooms making it difficult for the ill equipped fire fighters to fight it.
Although residents were forced by the ‘climate’ to help the fire brigade, two out of the 20 rooms were destroyed but no casualties were reported.
Enraged residents accused the county director in the department David Mwongela for failing to respond immediately.
In the recent past, Machakos county has continued to face a rising degree of vulnerability to disaster risk and lack of preparedness.
With households being affected in such a manner that lives and livelihoods are seriously disrupted and raises numerous questions on the capacity of the county government to adequately address the menace.
Residents say that they have suffered for a long time since their assets worth millions of shillings were gutted down by raging fires and their causes never established.
Investigations by Weekly Citizen show that Machakos and Mavoko towns are ill-prepared to respond to major fires that may break out.
The fire departments are crippled by years of official neglect riddled with mismanagement. They have equipment but lack human resources to render their much- needed services.
Response to disasters and emergencies in several counties is said to be hampered by lack of infrastructure and communication and even the capital, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu or Kakamega are no exception. There is also lack of health facilities and personnel with aid workers and disaster response experts calling for more preparedness.
However, disaster response experts say the county governments should urgently tackle lack of critical facilities as a measure in ensuring that counties are well ahead prepared in the event of fire break outs.
These facilities are required for the effective provision of healthcare and frequent conflict in the remote region is prone to drought, floods and disease outbreaks.

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