•The calls come after the recent explosion at a Liquefied Petroleum Gas storage and filling plant in Embakasi, where lives were lost with more than 200 people injured.
•KARA says it is ready to work with the relevant government entities to provide information on similar illegal businesses operating in estates and endangering lives.
The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) wants all LPG storage and filling stations, as well as petrol stations operating in residential areas and within “unacceptable safety distances”, shut down.
This, even as it calls out the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) for sleeping on the job, as rouge players continue to risk the lives of Kenyans and the general public.
Among cases of laxity, the association indicates, includes the recent explosion at a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage and filling plant in Embakasi, where lives were lost with more than 200 people injured.
While EPRA confirmed the plant had no approvals to conduct business, operations at the facility continued.
According to EPRA, all applications by the firm were rejected as they did not meet the set criteria for an LPG storage and filling plant in that area.
EPRA noted that it received the applications on March 19, 2023, June 20 2023 and July 31, 2023.
“The main reason for the rejection was the failure of the designs to meet the safety distances stipulated in the Kenya Standard,”it said.
In a statement to newsrooms, EPRA said it noted the high population density around the proposed site.
KARA however now says the Embakasi incident is a confirmation that the government and especially the regulatory bodies, have completely failed in enforcing the necessary rules and regulations intended to protect the public from exposure to danger.
“Sadly, the LPG storage and filling plant was operating within a residential area and EPRA, which is charged with the responsibility of licensing and regulating such facilities, never took any action against the proprietors,” KARA chief executive Henry Ochieng said.
“The owners of the plant made an application for a license to operate the facility but were denied yet they continued to operate without a license…Where was EPRA and why did they allow them to continue operating the business?” KARA has since questioned.
According to the association, this points to “a too familiar practice” where government officers responsible for enforcing the law are compromised to allow illegalities, thereby jeopardising the lives of Kenyans.
The Embakasi scenario is not isolated as there is proliferation of such illegal businesses across various neighbourhoods, Ochieng said.
“EPRA has clearly failed in its regulatory role and we demand that immediate action be taken against the officers who failed to take action on illegal operations of the Embakasi plant,” he said in a statement.
Ochieng said KARA is saddened by the loss of life and injuries caused by the explosion that took place at Embakasi, Mradi area.
“Our heartfelt condolences go to those who lost their loved ones and we pray for quick recovery to the injured. We further demand that all LPG storage and filling stations as well as petrol stations operating in residential areas and within unacceptable safety distance in various neighbouhoods be immediately closed down,” Ochieng said.
The association also wants the proprietors charged in a court of law for illegal business operations.
Ochieng said as a resident association, they are ready to work with the relevant government entities to provide information on similar illegal businesses that are operating in estates and endangering lives.
As of last year, there were about 120 licensed bulk LPG storage facilities in the country, with a combined storage capacity of approximately 34,000 metric tonnes.