Image of the fire incident in Embakasi. Photo: Haki FM

The Embakasi fire explosion that happened on the 1st of February 2024 at approximately 11:30 PM in the Mradi area, has so far claimed six lives, leaving over 200 admitted with serious injuries at different hospitals. This is after a lorry loaded with gas cylinders exploded, igniting a massive ball of fire that spread widely. The explosion also affected a nearby godown that was burned to ashes.

It has now emerged that the gas company operated illegally in a residential area. The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has revealed that all applications by the firm were rejected and they did not meet the set criteria for a Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant.

EPRA noted that it received the applications on 19 March 2023, 20 June 2023, and 31st July 2023 respectively, but rejected them for the firm’s failure to meet design and safety protocols as stipulated in the Kenya LPG operational standards.

Despite the potential dangers associated with operating an illegal gas company, the owner proceeded, jeopardizing the safety of residents. The inherent risks in handling flammable substances, coupled with inadequate infrastructure in a densely populated area, mirror the hazards witnessed in the Embakasi fire incident.

Storage, transportation, and handling of gas pose serious threats, including accidents, fires, and explosions, especially in areas ill-equipped to manage such emergencies. Operating a gas company in a residential setting extends beyond safety concerns, it can also disrupt the community. Noise, increased traffic, and other disturbances, along with other associated odors and emissions, may adversely impact the quality of life for neighbors.

It is obvious that the company owners prioritized their business objectives over the well-being and safety of the residents, proceeding with the establishment of a gas company in a residential area, potentially jeopardizing the lives of the residents.

But then, what measures should be taken against such perpetrators to avoid similar disasters in the future?