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Belgium hands City Hall Sh1.2 billion disaster management donation

By Collins Omulo February 2nd, 2021 3 min read

City Hall is set to receive a boost in its disaster management operations after the Belgian government pledged a Sh1.2 billion project upgrade of firefighting equipment in the Capital.

This is after the two parties announced plans to commence phase two of the upgrade programme that has been running since 2016.

The move follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Nairobi County government and Somati Vehicles NV, a Belgian Company, on March 28, 2018 for phase II of the agreement between the two entities.

The Sh1.1 billion or 8.8 million Euros deal was later approved on December 23, 2020 paving the way for the commencement of the second phase.

This comes at a time when the county continues to suffer a spate of fire disasters which have led to the loss of lives and destruction of properties.

In Phase I which began in 2016, the government of Belgium through KBC Bank NV –M/s Somati Vehicles, donated fire engines, ambulance vehicles, personal protection equipment, breathing apparatus sets, communication systems, construction of new fire station, training, spare parts and materials at a cost of more than Sh1.1 billion or 10 million Euros.

In total, City Hall received 29 vehicles inclusive of firefighting engines ambulances and a ladder truck to help them better respond to fire outbreaks in addition to the construction of Kangundo Road fire station.

In the second phase, the Nairobi County Government is expected to receive firefighting and disaster management equipment such as boats to assist in recovery in case of floods, state of the art machines to pump out water in areas such as Eastlands which is mostly affected by floods when it rains as well as diving equipment.

It will also be receiving special containers in order to deal with chemical incidences in the city.

Acting County Secretary Jairus Musumba said the current deal will further boost the county government’s emergency and disaster response mechanisms.

He pointed out that donations in the first phase boosted City Hall’s response to disasters and emergencies where until then the county’s fire department was infamous for faulty equipment, arriving at fire scenes late, running out of water and having difficulties putting out fires in high-rise buildings, but this has not been the case since the commencement of our partnership in 2016.

“I am very happy that Belgium continues to stand with Nairobi City County government and the Kenyan government. The fire fighting vehicles and equipment donated in Phase I, in 2017, have gone a long way in helping our Fire and Rescue team respond better to fire incidences which are common, especially in the informal settlements,” said Mr Musumba.

Belgium Ambassador to Kenya Nicolas Nihon said that his country will provide 35 percent (Sh420 million) of the entire project sum with the rest offset by
Somati Vehicles NV with the funds made available as part of the tied aid from the Belgian government.

“The Belgian government is ready to support this project and hoping that we can swiftly sign the commercial contract for this venture with the county Government,” said Mr Nihon.

The ambassador urged City Hall to fast track the completion of the first phase with the deadline of May 31, 2021 fast approaching.

Nairobi Devolution and Public Service Management and Administration Executive Veska Kangogo said the county government desires to work with partners including national, regional, international and local agencies to develop a disaster management system that will enhance risk preparedness.

She stated that City Hall has made commendable efforts towards addressing fire hazards and attendant human vulnerability with the county government having already hired 300 firefighters and is in the process of recruiting 200 more to address shortage of staff.

Further, she stated that the county government is currently preparing the Disaster and Emergency Management Act in accordance with the Kenyan Constitution which mandates a county to develop and implement suitable disaster management policies.

The Act seeks to put in place institutional systems for disaster management and enhance resource mobilization.

“The county government has also entered into various strategic partnerships to help address these disaster concerns. The county government therefore sees this project as an opportunity towards achieving the above goal,” said Ms Kangogo.