City Hall is set to unveil three newly-constructed fire stations before May in a bid to enhance its response to disasters and emergencies in the capital.
The three fire stations, located on Kangundo Road, Waithaka and Ruaraka, were completed over a year ago but their commissioning has stalled.
The construction of the three fire stations began in April 2018 and they were to be launched in September 2019.
Nairobi Devolution Executive Veska Kangogo said the three will now be commissioned before the end of May to add to the two fire stations currently operating in Nairobi.
The two functional fire stations are Khoja fire station along Tom Mboya Street in the central business district and another at Industrial Area, which were built before Kenya got independence in 1963.
Ms Kangogo said the opening of the three new fire stations had been held up by delays by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to clear a container carrying communications equipment donated by the Belgian government for use in the command centre.
However, she said the county government has written to the Ministry of Devolution to follow up on the matter and have KRA expedite the release of the container.
The equipment was part of Phase I of a partnership between the government of Belgium and City Hall.
The county government received from Belgium through KBC Bank NV–M/s Somati Vehicles, 29 vehicles including firefighting engines, ambulances and a ladder truck, personal protection equipment, breathing apparatus sets and communication systems, among others at a cost of more than Sh1.1 billion.
Waiting for KRA
“We are just waiting for KRA to release to us the communications equipment. They told us to relist what is inside the containers and we have done so after asking for the list from Belgium,” said Ms Kangogo.
“We have already finished construction of the fire stations and we are equipping the command centre in Ruaraka. By May 21, 2021, which is the deadline for completion of phase one, all the fire stations should be operational,” she said.
She said City Hall has already recruited an additional 300 firefighters to be deployed at the new fire stations with 200 more to be added as the county has a shortage of staff to man all the five fire stations.
In September 2019, a report from City Hall revealed that Nairobi had only 120 trained firefighters; 11 retired at the end of that year and 13 in 2020.
“The fire personnel will undergo special training in different disaster situations,” she said.
Kangundo Road and Waithaka fire stations were funded by the World Bank and will serve all the five Embakasi sub-counties as well as Westlands, Dagoretti North and South.
Ruaraka fire station, funded by the Belgian government, will serve Roysambu, Ruaraka and Mathare areas as well as a command centre.
The Khoja and Industrial area fire stations will serve Kibra, Lang’ata, Kamukunji and Starehe sub-counties.
“We are also targeting to add another fire station at Gigiri as part of phase two of our cooperation with the Belgian government. We have already positioned a temporary fire station there,” she said.
In the second phase, City Hall is set to receive Sh1.2 billion towards a similar project where they will get 30 additional trucks and boats to assist in recovery in case of floods, state-of-the-art machines to pump out water in areas such as Eastlands, mostly affected by floods when it rains, diving equipment as well as special containers to deal with chemical incidents in the city.