First Lady blames Saitoti for oil spill deaths

Monday February 02 2009

First Lady Lucy Kibaki addresses journalists on Monday after visiting victims of the Sachangwan fire tragedy at Nairobi's Kenyatta National Hospital, where some of them are admitted. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA.

First Lady Lucy Kibaki on Monday accused minister George Saitoti of negligence in the Molo and Nakumatt fire disasters which have killed 145 people.

On Monday, she also demanded an explanation in writing to be presented before her on Tuesday by officials of Internal Security ministry on their reasons for failure to cordon off the area before the explosion.

Terming it “negligence and insensitivity by the leaders”, the First Lady said it was a man-made disaster that could have been avoided if the Provincial Administration had taken the step to caution residents of the danger in scooping oil from a fallen tanker.

“The administrators should have mobilised residents out of the scene of death and educated them.”

Similar incidents

An angry Mrs Kibaki accused Prof Saitoti and his ministry officials of failure to learn from similar incidents in the past.


“It is not the first or second time this is happening. Even before the explosion, the district officers and chiefs had enough time to warn people that is was dangerous to siphon the oil,” she said.

She also criticised the other ministers who flew to Sachangwan, the scene of the accident, to condole with the bereaved at the weekend, adding that a female minister in the docket would have done better.

“Why fly all the way to Molo just to tell mourners they should learn a lesson?”

Noting that a similar tragedy happened on Thika Road last year, Mrs Kibaki accused national leaders, saying: “The Internal Security ministry should make sure citizens are safe at all times.”

Prof Saitoti, alongside Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Cabinet ministers Sam Ongeri, Beth Mugo, Franklin Bett and Police Commissioner Hussein Ali were the first national leaders to visit the scene.

“Instead of making a visit when the people are dead, you should go there to give them (civic) education in good time... that petrol is dangerous.”

Mrs Kibaki told the Internal Security docket to take charge of the situation, noting that the country had had enough “unnecessary deaths” since January last year during the post-election violence.

She also said Prof Saitoti only visited bandit prone areas after an attack had occurred.

Speaking after visiting victims of the survivors of the tragedy at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Mrs Kibaki said the President was saddened by the accident and had to cut short his official engagements in Ethiopia.

“I was saddened by the Nakumatt inferno and now we have the Molo tragedy. Our leaders should wake up and do something,” Mrs Kibaki noted and praised women leaders for being more sensitive to the needs of citizens.

She urged more women to take up public positions.

The death toll has reached 118 after seven of the 47 victims flown from the scene to Nairobi succumbed.

“We have Kenyans who are willing to take your jobs if you can’t do it — these Kenyans who are dying are not animals!”

She lamented that most of were young people and schoolchildren sent by their parents to scoop oil for sale.

Mrs Kibaki also hit out at MPs whose constituents were dying of hunger: “You should be ashamed. With your salaries you can feed the constituency... Why should you let anyone die of hunger?”

She expressed dismay at the act of people dying after eating wild fruits for lack of food.

“If one cannot feed his constituents, what can he do for the nation?”

Her speech lasted nearly half an hour outside the Casualties department of the hospital.

Her facial expressions showed anger and every time she spoke, she could not help but pull national leaders into the problems that have befallen the country.

She was accompanied by the Head of Public Service Fancis Muthaura, Public Health minister Beth Mugo, Government spokesperson Alfred Mutua, MP Simon Mbugua and former MP Njenga Karume.

One hour later, Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited the victims and pledged Government support for special food and foreign doctors to help with the constructive surgery.

“The Government will not spare anything in providing the best health care for the people,” he said.