Nairobi News


Kibera is no accident! It’s recklessness

It is amazing how Kenyans sit like lame ducks as they wait for an ‘accident’ to happen.

Sunday’s train derailment was no accident at all. An accident is an unexpected. This was a tragedy waiting to happen — and the writing had been on the wall for decades.

Incidentally, it is the second train crash in as many months in a congested city neigbhourhood.

In October, a train killed 12 people in Mutindwa, Eastlands, after an Umoinner matatu stalled on the railway line.

Apart from the road link having been opposed by the Kenya Railway, the driver was reported to have defied an order to stop by a policeman.

Traders were also operating on the railway line and had built their stalls inches to the track. To make matters worse, some rebuilt their stalls after the crash.

In the latest case, Kibera residents are living on the railway reserve despite efforts to get them out for expansion and for their safety.

Moralists will argue that the poor people have nowhere else to go—an often-repeated argument used by political types and NGOs to defend lack of national discipline.

The truth is that poverty should not entitle anyone to break the law. Kenya is by no means the poorest nation in the region. And there can never be an excuse for dicing with death sheepishly as thousands of urban dwellers are wont to.

However, it is good to see the government and the World Bank are investing billions to clear the reserves of encroachment. But even as the resettlement goes on, it is only prudent that they clear the slums on the railway.

As a county, we cannot continue endangering lives of residents. And it is not only on the railway that danger lurks.

Along the oil pipeline in places like Nairobi and Kisumu are settlements that are likely to cause major loss of lives of the slum dwellers.

The Sinai fire disaster that killed dozens appears to have been forgotten.

And as we mourn our so-called accidents even on the roads, isn’t it time the authorities took responsibility for these?

Unless they can amply demonstrate that they have taken adequate measures to prevent the same, they should not remain in office mourning like the rest of us.

Let’s no sit and wring our hands in frustration like a nation of fools as we wait for the next ‘accident’.