Opinion and Analysis
Rushing to disaster scene is irresponsible
Posted Tuesday, May 29 2012 at 19:09
Rushing to a disaster scene is a silly and naive thing to do. It’s unfortunate that the act is perpetrated by even top government officials without regard to their personal safety.
It is true that a political fever has gripped the country and politicians want to utilise every event that attracts the public to win trust and support. I want to warn Kenyans that they should separate security from politics.
Come to think of it: a blast could be a trap meant to gather a bigger crowd. Rushing to such scenes may assist terrorists to achieve their goal of killing and injuring as my people as possible.
Overcrowding at a disaster scene is more harmful than helpful. It results in tampering with evidence that could lead to the arrest of perpetrators of the act, or even establishing causes of the attack — creating a safe haven for the perpetrators to camouflage with the crowd and get away easily. It also multiplies the vulnerability of the public to subsequent attacks.
Accidents and disasters are made worse by human error, negligence, and ignorance. For instance, when a fuel tank overturns and the public rushes in to siphon fuel, police officers are dispatched to ensure security and prevent further harm to the public.
If the crowd becomes reluctant to leave and unruly, the officers end up firing in the air and hurling tear-gas at it.
Trigger an explosion
This could trigger an explosion of the fuel tank and subsequently deaths and injuries. Kenyan disaster management and preparedness institutions are ineffective and outdated.
Volunteers often lack training while institutions don’t have adequate equipment to deal with disasters.
Recently, a building under construction in Nakuru town collapsed and the first respondent was a policeman who cocked his rifle and ran to the scene, ready to shoot. Of course he scared off volunteer rescuers.
In another example of how not to deal with a disaster; an Israeli airline plane, El-Al, failed to release its wheels while landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.
Heavily armed General Service Unit officers from the nearby Embakasi training school were quickly loaded onto trucks and rushed to the airport. What their role was, I don’t know.
Muthui teaches at Masinde Muliro University