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Buruburu dad files Sh4m claim for gas burns

A Nairobi businessman is demanding Sh4.6 million compensation from State-owned National Oil Corporation of Kenya after a gas cylinder explosion left him nursing serious burns.

Isaac Irungu, who runs a garbage collection business in Nairobi’s Buruburu Estate, suffered second-degree burns after a cylinder he bought from the State corporation burst into flames.

The incident, he says, was a result of the gas being unscented, setting him up for the disaster.

He says the matter may now be headed to court after his efforts to seek compensation through his lawyer proved futile.

NOTHING HAS HAPPENED

“I bought the Supa Gas in October 2016 and that is when the incident happened. I have not got any feedback as to exactly why Nock is not compensating me when I suffered burns and was ground for so long. I have written three letters, including through my area MP, but nothing has happened so far,” Mr Irungu said in an interview.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is required to have ethyl mercaptan, a chemical with a foul smell that should notify users in case of a leakage. Mr Irungu claims there was no smell hence his exposure to the accident.

The businessman then posted the incident on social media complete with pictures of his injuries, sparking public outcry online.

The viral post prompted Nock to respond more than eight months after the incident, blaming Isaac’s gas regulator for the fault and insisting that the cylinder met the required standards.

FAULTY

While Nock admitted that the cylinder was sourced from one of its retailers, the firm insists that it is the gas regulator (which it had not supplied) that was faulty and not the cylinder’s content.

“Our technical team purged the gas cylinder to release some gas and to establish if the gas had the characteristic ‘rotten egg’ smell caused by ethyl mercaptan chemical that is introduced in LPG at source to help in detecting leaks. From our investigations, there is clear evidence therefore that a faulty regulator and not a faulty cylinder belonging to Mr Irungu might have triggered the sequence of events,” Nock wrote in a statement on Thursday.

The oil marketer said the top part (regulator) was completely damaged by the flame, an indication that it was weak.

The statement acknowledged receipt of Mr Irungu’s claims, saying the insurer was still in discussions with the victim’s lawyer on the issue.

NOT SERIOUS

Mr Irungu is, however, suspicious that Nock is not serious about compensating him. He says his Sh4.6 million claim will even go higher after what he describes as ‘defamation’ by the State company in blaming him for their own fault.

“It is the regulator that saved me because if it had been faulty then it would not have come out on impact, that is a safety feature. All those things they are saying have not been written to us and all their insurer did was to persuade my lawyer not to go to court. I have had more than 200 people sending me messages with similar concerns of odourless gas from National Oil. This is a disaster waiting to happen to many others,” Mr Irungu said.

LPG without any smell is among the major headaches the Energy Regulatory Commission has been battling. The concern is said to have prompted the ban on imports through the Kenya-Tanzania border.