Sinai fire victims say KPC never issued quit notice
Kenya Pipeline Company had not served squatters at Sinai slums in Nairobi with a quit notice before a fire tragedy struck, killing more than 100 residents, a court heard on Monday.
Survivors seeking compensation from the government over the 2011 fire said they had occupied the land for 20 years before the fire shattered their lives and claimed those of their loved ones.
“We had never heard it belonged to KPC.
“If they had told us we were living in a danger zone we would have vacated,” said Ms Rebecca Ndeta.
There were people still living in Sinai but no one has ever told them to move out, she added.
Ms Ndeta was one of the witnesses who testified on Monday.
Lawyers asked them whether they were aware they lived on land with heavy underground drainage oil pipes.
A lawyer said the squatters “lived dangerously close” to the oil pipes in an area prohibited for human settlement.
However, the witnesses said they were never notified of any imminent danger and were not aware they were not supposed to build shelters above ground.
“For the 18 years that I lived in Sinai, I never heard that the plot belonged to anybody. We knew it belonged to the government,” said Mr Josephat Mutiso, a former carpenter who lost his business and two relatives to the inferno.
Another witness, Mr Jackson Muthoga, said a local chief demarcated the plots based on how needy one was.
He said he was hospitalised for two months at Kenyatta National Hospital after the tragedy and had to undergo grafting on parts of his burnt skin.
Mr Muthoga, said: “I have been unable to resume work… my children are out of school since I can no longer fend for them. I used to make about Sh40,000 a month.”
A 13-year-old boy who lost his parents in the fire also testified yesterday, recounting the loss and injuries he suffered.
Lawyers for KPC said squatters occupied the land illegally, because it belonged to the company.
The claimants are seeking in excess of Sh5 billion for general damages, including the cost of medical bills and want the court to compel KPC and Nairobi City Council (now Nairobi County Government) to settle the claim.
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, who was in court on Monday, filed the case on behalf of the victims.