Embakasi fire: Raila Odinga blames city blast on lack of planning

 Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga addresses a public rally at the Kamukunji grounds in Nairobi on Sunday. 

Photo credit: Pool

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has urged county governments to invest in proper planning to avert tragedies like the gas plant explosion in Embakasi, Nairobi, last week in which six people died.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party boss said lack of proper planning in counties was to blame for the challenges residents faced with housing, drainage and sanitation.

Saying solutions entailed making tough decisions such as demolitions, relocation of structures and people and restructuring of systems, Mr Odinga urged citizens to bear the pain temporarily so as to benefit in the long term.

He claimed that the biggest source of failure in Kenya today was not lack of manpower, knowledge or funds, but lack of planning.

"Nairobi is mourning because city officials allowed the establishment of a gas filling station where none should have been," Mr Odinga said.

The country’s highways, he further pointed out, have turned into death traps because vehicles pick up and drop off passengers anywhere.

According to him, major cities in the world such as Paris, London, Tokyo and Washington DC have been able to retain their identities as well as provide essential services such as transport, health, water, sanitation, energy, education and fibre optics because they made plans from the beginning and stuck to them.

He said that in these cities, bus stations, universities, hospitals, fire stations, train stations, parks, and social halls remain where they were intended and serve the aims they were meant to serve.

"Businesses are moving to Kajiado and Machakos because Nairobi embraced chaos. Kisumu must not go in that direction. We may thrive in chaos for a while, but in the long run, we will lose," said Mr Odinga.

He claimed 60 percent of Nairobi's population lives in informal settlements. Mr Odinga said reorganising the city may be uncomfortable for a while, but it will attract investors and create jobs.

Speaking at the official commissioning of the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company’s new office, he urged residents of the lakeside city to focus their energy on rainwater harvesting.

He was accompanied by Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o, his deputy, Dr Mathew Owili, County Assembly Speaker Elisha Jack Oraro, Kisumu Central MP Joshua Oron, Kiwasco Managing Director Thomas Odongo and Kiwasco Board Chairperson Phyllis Chepkemboi.

Prof Nyong'o pledged to improve roads and sanitation in the county. He also urged the utility firm to minimise water losses by repairing leaks on time.

Mr Odongo cited the firm’s biggest challenge as climate change, which has impacted negatively on river discharge.

"The Kajulu water intake is on River Kibos, which used to be permanent but is now seasonal because of climate change," Mr Odongo said. He said the Kajulu plant can produce 36 million litres of water per day when River Kibos is in full flow, while Dunga can produce 44 million litres daily.