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Sinai fire victims need surgery abroad – Doctor

The survivors of the 2011 Sinai slum fire tragedy that killed over 100 people need advanced corrective surgery which is unavailable locally, a doctor who treated them told a trial court on Tuesday.

Dr Sidhe Robert of Hawi Medicins said the survivors have scars in “special places” like in the reproductive organs area, buttocks and joints which “hinder normal daily activity.”

He was testifying at the High Court where the survivors, through Nairobi senator Mike Sonko,  want the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and the Nairobi county government, then the city council, surcharged in excess of Sh 5 billion for “negligence”.

MALFUNCTIONED PIPE

The is after a fire broke out at the KPC’s depot in 2011 after flammable oil leaked from a malfunctioned pipe  into the densely populated settlement.

The claimants have accused KPC of failing to store a highly flammable liquid in a proper manner and letting it spill “by not keeping its machinery, plant and pipes in a proper state of maintenance and also failing to warn or notify them of the impending danger.”

 Rebecca Ndeta, a victim of Sinai slums fire, in court on January 26, 2015.

Rebecca Ndeta, a victim of Sinai slums fire, in court on January 26, 2015.

In a medico-legal report presented during the proceedings on Tuesday, the doctor told presiding judge David Majanja that the injuries ranged from two per cent and 53 per cent burns.

He said probable estimates of corrective surgery may cost between Sh 150,000 to Sh 7 million.

UNAVAILABLE LOCALLY

“They also suffer post-traumatic stress disorders which is a condition that requires further care,” the doctor said.

He said the survivors need corrective plastic surgery, but decried the “unavailability of such services in the country.”

“We live in country in which if you suffer burns you have to continue living with your scars which ultimately hinder your normal day to day activities,” the doctor said.

Asked to shed more light on how severe a burn has to be to debilitate an individual, the doctor explained that “any burn above 10 per cent is grave.”

“A number of the patients had post-traumatic stress, the devastation was great but it is unfortunate that they have been unable to get adequate support,” Dr Sidhe said.

The recommendations the doctor made in his report include compensation, varied corrective surgeries, pyscho-social support and rehabilitation of the survivors back into the community.

On Tuesday, the claimants closed their case against the state paving way for lawyers for KPC and the county government to present their defence.

The parties have been directed to hand in their submissions by Friday before a judgment is made early March.

NEGLIGENCE

In the case, the 102 claimants want to be compensated for damages and loss of property and life.

They want the KPC and City Council of Nairobi held responsible for negligence and breach of statutory duties and have submitted that at the time of the fire, they were occupants, workers or visitors in the Sinai Settlement Scheme in the city’s Industrial Area.

“On September 12, 2011, while the victims were in their residences, KPC negligently and in breach of its duties allowed flammable petroleum products to run through waste water drainage dug by the council, which burned the victims and caused massive damage to property,” the claim reads.