BY IBRAHIM ORUKO AND ELIZABETH WERE
Two Nairobi MPs yesterday objected to the mass burial of the Sinai fire unidentified victims at the Lang'ata Cemetery and insisted the internment should be at the slum. Makadara MP Gideon "Sonko" Mbuvi and his Embakasi colleague Ferdinand Waititu accused the government of discriminating against the residents of Sinai by failing to set up a disaster fund to assist the families as was done in the Sachang'wan, Nakumatt and Faza Island fires.
The two MPs said the Sinai victims should be buried at the slum and a monument and garden put up similar to those erected after the Sachang'wan tragedy and the August 7 (1998) Bomb Blast Memorial Garden. The two MPs' protests followed announcements by the government that a requiem service for the Sinai victims will be held tomorrow at Uhuru Gardens followed by a mass burial at Lang'ata Cemetery for the bodies burnt beyond recognition.
The burial will go ahead even though results of DNA tests to identify the bodies will not be ready until after three months.Koitamet ole Kina, who is the Deputy Coordinator of Crises Response Centre in the PM's Office, said those who had been able to positively identify their relatives are free to organise their separate burials with logistical support from the government.
He assured the relatives of the government's support and appealed to them to provide information to the burial committee that has been established to facilitate transporting the bodies. Yesterday, Sonko and Waititu said the burial plans should be stopped until the government addresses the issue of compensation. The government has proposed paying Sh60,000 to the relatives of each of the fire victims. Sonko earlier yesterday discharged himself from the Nairobi Hospital and ignored his doctor's advise to remain in until Thursday when he was expected to undergo an operation on his hip. Sonko was admitted last week after complaining of exhaustion.
However, unconfirmed reports indicated that he injured his hip when he led a group of his supporters to the Kenya Pipeline Company depot to protest against the company's handling of the fire. Sonko objected to the compensation amount saying "it is too little". "I have demanded that the figure be increased to Sh100,000 and should be done at once when the entire DNA has been completed," said Sonko, who was on crutches.
From the hospital, Sonko drove straight to the Special Programmes ministry offices at Comcraft House where he demanded audience with the minister, Esther Murugi. When the two MPs met with Special Programmes PS Andrew Mondoh, they said the mass grave should be at Sinai and a monument should be built at the village. "I will not accept the burial to take place in Lang'ata before DNA tests are conducted and the government indicates how it will compensate the fire victims," Sonko said.
At the Tom Mboya Hall on Jogoo Road where the fire survivors have a temporary shelter, Kina said the government is expected to come up with an alternative resettlement for the survivors. "We do not expect people to be still living here by the end of next week because this is not a camp," he said.
A total of 476 victims have so far been officially registered at the hall. Some of those rendered homeless in the fire left the temporary shelter to join relatives in the city. "Those who wish to leave can go. But they must know that the government will still compensate them because we have the data of all the affected,"said Kina.
Sonko objected to plans by the government to relocate those squatting on the KPC land and claimed the land meant to resettle the residents had been grabbed and sold to private developers who built Balozi and Diamond Park Estates. Sonko visited the Tom Mboya Social Hall where he donated Sh1.2 million to the Kenya Red Cross to help the survivors.Last Edited: Tue 20th September 2011 at 05:06:15 PM