Leaking oil tanker causes Nakuru-Nairobi highway closure

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 00:00 |
A fire fighter at the scene of the leaking fuel tanker on Pipeline area on the Nakuru-Nairobi highway yesterday morning. Photo/RAPHEL MUNGE

A section of the Nakuru-Nairobi highway near Kenya Pipeline Company in Nakuru was yesterday morning temporarily closed after an oil tanker ferrying petroleum products was discovered to be leaking.

County Police Commander Stephen Matu said the lorry, that was carrying 45,000 litres of super petrol, was  heading to Kampala, Uganda.

“When the driver of the truck realised that the vehicle had a problem, he was advised to put it aside. The traffic police around this area acted fast enough and secured the area,” the said.

Police added that the protected area covered up to three kilometres as motorists were forced to use alternative routes.

Those travelling from Nairobi were diverted at Barnabas estate while those coming from Naivasha were directed towards Stem Hotel and rejoined the highway at Section 58.

Nakuru East police commander Elena Kabuguru said  security and emergency response teams arrived at the scene immediately the tanker was parked on the roadside.

He said some residents were seen walking towards the scene with jerricans and funnels ready to collect the leaking fuel.

Shops closed

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) chair John Ngumi expressed concern that Kenyans are yet to become sensitive to dangers posed by oil tankers whenever they are involved in accidents.

“We have been carrying out awareness campaigns on the dangers posed by such incidents, but unfortunately it appears Kenyans are yet to take lessons,” he said.

The leaking tank was identified and was said to be holding 17,000 litres of super petrol.

Shops and businesses operating around the area were closed as police officers ordered traders to stay away.

Police had warned residents of surrounding estates of Pipeline, Barnabas and Mwariki to keep away from the scene so as to give authorities time to clear the road.

Pricilla Waithaka, a shop attendant, said she quickly closed her shop as she feared for her life in case a fire broke out.

“When I heard what was going on just a few metres from my shop, I could not wait to be told by the police that I was supposed to vacate the area. I quickly closed my shop and kept off the area,”she said, adding that she lost a relative in thee 2009 Sachangwan fuel tanker fire tragedy.

“It is better to be safe rather than defy the security order in the name of making money from my business,” said another businessman, John Kigen, who operates a shop at Pipeline Estate.

Lives lost

The incident comes just two days after at least 64 people were killed in a petroleum tanker fire in Morogoro, Tanzania.

In 2009, more than 100 people were killed at Sachang’wan along Nakuru-Eldoret road after a fuel tanker exploded into a huge ball of fire, while another 92 people, among them ten officers from a nearby GSU camp, were admitted at various hospitals in Nakuru, Rongai, and Molo with multiple burns.

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