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Vandals leave 14 mini fire engines for Nairobi slums grounded

Firefighters at work.
Firefighters at work. City Hall is constructing a fire station on Kangundo Road while three others proposed across the capital are yet to start. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

All the 14 mini fire engines City Hall bought in 2014 to battle infernos in informal settlements have been vandalised.

County Assembly Committee on Culture and Community Services says vandalism of the equipment has slowed down City Hall’s response to the frequent fire outbreaks in Nairobi slums and estates with poor roads.

“The quad bikes that were purchased and allocated in the 17 sub-counties were vandalised due to poor management and security. They are, therefore, not operational,” the committee says in a report.

The mini fire engines are able to navigate through slums, which conventional vehicles find difficult to access during emergencies.

They were acquired following complaints from slum dwellers who experience numerous fire incidents, leading to loss of lives and property.

The Nairobi Fire Department often faces criticism for failing to put out fires on time, particularly in slums and other areas lack access roads.

The report further says only 20 out of 50 serving fire engines were working while 30 have stalled due to mechanical problems.

City Hall also grapples with a shortage of qualified staff to operate its two fire engines on Tom Mboya Street and in Industrial Area, instead relying on college students on attachment.

“Of the 50 fire engines, 30 had stalled due to mechanical problems and 20 were operational. However the department was lacking personnel to operate the 20 fire engines,” says the committee.

City Hall has for years struggled to respond to fire outbreaks outside the city centre, leading to huge losses. The county says narrow roads in the slums and failure to audit most buildings have led to the lack of emergency exits.

City Hall is constructing a fire station on Kangundo Road while three others proposed across the capital are yet to start.

“The other three proposed fire stations had not yet begun due to land ownership issues and lease negotiations,” City Hall disaster management chief officer Ann Muenda told the committee in August.

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