CNN's Larry Madowo's Raw Criticism Of Govt Over Embakasi Gas Explosion [VIDEO]
Madowo was reporting live from the scene of the blast, taking CNN viewers through what transpired
CNN international correspondent, Larry Madowo on Friday, February 2 did not hide his words while reporting on the Embakasi gas explosion that killed three people and injured over 270 others.
Madowo was reporting live from the scene of the blast, taking CNN viewers through what transpired and making reference to sentiments by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) that it did not grant a licence to the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant which was linked to the explosion.
As earlier reported on Viral Tea, EPRA rejected three applications for construction permits because the owners did not meet the requirements for running an LPG plant. The applications were made on March 19, 2023, June 20, 2023, and July 31, 2023.
"But somehow, it still continued to be here, operating in an area which is densely populated, these are homes all around here," Madowo reported as the cameras panned to the aftermath of the explosion.
Aftermath of the Embakasi explosion incident which occurred on January 2, 2024. /MINISTRY OF INTERIOR
"When the explosion happened last night, there were people who were wounded and injured all around here because this should not be happening here in the first place."
Judiciary Exposed in Embakasi Explosion
To make matters worse, Madowo cited a statement from the Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) which revealed that the the firm owner and clients who distributed his product were convicted of a criminal case on November 9, 2020.
The case was filed at the Milimani Law courts in Nairobi and all the accused persons were found guilty and convicted with a sentence issued on May 18, 2023, one month before the firm made its second application to EPRA.
"Despite guidance from the High Court on the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison or a penalty of Ksh10,000,000 the learned Magistrate Court Number 11 imposed total fines of Ksh500,000 or a one-year imprisonment instead of Ksh20 million or 5 years for the proprietor (first accused) and a fine of Ksh50,000 for the second accused instead of a fine of Ksh10,000,000 or 5 years.
"The learned magistrate continued to release all motor vehicles continued to release all motor vehicles including two LPG tankers together with the confiscated LPG bulk with a net weight of 4,660 kgs despite the law providing for mandatory forfeiture. One of the LPG tankers unprocedurally released by the courts was registration number ZC 1286 which is one of the tankers involved in this incident," the statement read in part.
PIEA had argued that despite the convictions, the plant continued operating illegally without the minimum safety standards and qualified LPG personnel as required by the law.
"Despite the above actions and convictions, the proprietor continued operating the illegal storage and refilling facility without even the bare minimum safety standards and qualified LPG personnel as required by law leading to this unfortunate catastrophe which could have been avoided should the letter and spirit of the law have been followed," they added.
It was further noted that the illegal gas plant had also been demolished twice on grounds of carrying out illicit refilling of cylinders belonging to other licensed brand owners.
Madowo also showcased a dodgy work permit and risk assessment board which was not in use when the explosion occurred as well as a fire assembly point which warned workers against bringing in anything that could ignite an explosion as well as leaving their phones behind and wearing protective equipment, rules that were not followed when the blast occurred.
He also spoke to a few residents who recounted detecting gas fumes in the air a few days before the explosion which provided a possible explanation for the blast radius spreading quite farther from the plant where the explosion occurred.
Back to EPRA's reason for rejection. It was revealed that the plant did not adhere to the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard in the event of an explosion as the plant was located within a densely populated area, which would have mitigated the adverse effects of the explosion.
According to Madowo, a vehicle was flung several metres in the air when the blast occurred and landed on the rooftop of a 5-floor building on the other side, with its parts strewn all around the blast area.
He believed that the government would have tough questions to answer in terms of accountability when investigations into the blast are concluded.
"I'm not mincing my words about this. Corruption kills. People died in Embakasi because an illegal gas plant was allowed to operate in a residential area, even after its license was rejected 3 times for safety reasons. It was even demolished twice, and the owner was convicted and jailed. So why was it still there?" Madowo posed while captioning the video shared across his social media pages.
Here is the video:
People died in Nairobi's Embakasi because an illegal gas plant was allowed to operate in a residential area, even after its license was rejected 3 times for safety reasons. It was even demolished twice, and the owner convicted.— Larry Madowo (@LarryMadowo) February 2, 2024
Our CNN live report from the scene of crime pic.twitter.com/O3CzBRDU5f
Preliminary reports had pointed to two mechanics connected to the case, with residents claiming that they were spotted repairing a broken-down car close to the site of the explosion.
The embattled residents claimed that they detected the scent of leaking gas at around 10 pm, to which they warned the mechanics against jump-starting the car as the sparks would have caused a fire. However, the mechanics proceeded, leading to the fatal explosion.
The severity of the situation prompted a crackdown on illegal gas-related activities, with three individuals already arrested for unauthorised gas transfer from a truck to cylinders.
Gachagua Goes After Garages In Nairobi
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua directed investigative agencies to enforce regular inspections in Nairobi garages, which he claimed were being used as smokescreens for illegal gas and fuel businesses.
He claimed that government drivers were at the centre of the dealings, further revealing that they would engage the Nairobi security team to commence the operation given that most incidents were being witnessed in the city. Others involved in the illicit dealings, according to him, were the gas tanker that caused the Friday explosion.
"Sometimes our drivers come to these garages to sell. The drivers are paid Ksh1,000 yet the garages take fuel worth Ksh10,000.
"That driver came here to dump gas illegally. Now see the pain and destruction it has caused. Let us be responsible and stop shortcuts in life because they cannot work," the DP stated.