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Friday, January 30, 2009

Nakumatt Downtown Shocker: Is This What Really Happened?

Exits Were Shut By The Management When The Fire Started?

It has not been lost on this blogger that the management of Nakumatt have behaved very strangely indeed over the tragedy that saw over 40 people lose their lives in a grisly fire at their Nakumatt downtown branch.

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They have been on the defensive right from the start when in fact sympathy at the huge loss should be flowing in their direction, insurance claims not withstanding.

For starters, even as the fire was going on the supermarket management rushed a statement to the press saying that all staff and customers had been evacuated safely and insisting that there were no casualties.

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Now eye-witnesses insist that the huge steel shutters were shut moments after the fire started. The reason was that the management wanted to stop customers leaving without paying for their purchases and also to prevent looting. Clearly they underestimated the intensity of the fire (by late yesterday thick smoke was still bellowing from the ruins of where the supermarket once stood). Moments later when it became clear that the fire was serious, the doors were jammed and could not open. If this is what really happened then it was a rather tragic error in judgement.

Interestingly news reports on how survivors escaped seem to support this claim since many jumped from the floor above when there was really no fire around the doors when the inferno started. Suggesting that that particular escape route may have been blocked.

Kumekucha titbits: Staying in Nairobi? Well the traffic jams have gotten totally out of hand these days. So if you are catching an early morning flight the hotel you choose could be critical. For instance if you are using the Wilson airport to Masai Mara or elsewhere then The Olive Garden Hotel Nairobi in Hurligham is a good idea to avoid the City centre traffic completely.


Anonymous said...

Its not a shocker. Kenyan lives are cheap..perharps the cheapest around. a few months ago 2000 people were killed because 'Raila alisema' and the morons on this blog cheered on. Untold thousands die every year on our roads.

and how many have died this year because the moi era thug called ruto sold Kenyan maize to south sudan through his buddies?

19 lives is not anything to shock me. If raila can kill thousands for political expediencym, why can wahindi kill 19 for profit?

Anonymous said...


While every life lost should sadden all of us and Nakumatt should at least come clean, Kenyans in general have cheapened their lives. Wanting things for nothing has slowly evolved into a national cultural trait.

If the Nakumatt management shut some of the escape routes before they knew the potential gravity of the risk the initial fire was creating, I believe their conduct was out of abundant caution. Every body knows that majority of Kenyans will use or create chaotic/accidental circumstances to run away with the loot (and the shoppers in the Nakumatt were no exception. Worse, the hordes outside would have come in to finish off what would be left. Didn't you see how hard the mounted riot police worked to hold back mobs upon mobs that were surging forward. These mobs were not coming to rescue the victims or to see a dytime movie. Given the chance many people would have dived into the fire to find something to loot. And don't tell me the usual tall tale of desperate poverty, they are trying to get something for free/illegally they have been fancying. The pitiful thing is that they don't seem to realize that they are stealing. To them it just matters that they get the free/stolen stuff and, for whatever it is worth, that evening they would be heroes of their neighbourhood of like-minded people.

Just sample these:

1. An accident occurs on Thika Road near KU, both the police and onlookers fight over who has the right to pick the pockets of the victims instead of rescuing them. Many victims die while their wallets (IDs and money) and mobile phones disappear into dirty hands and pockets of "rescuers" and "utumishi kwa wote." Same type of accident happens near Voi involving a Mombasa-bound bus. Men are seen riding away stolen bicycles while women fight over luggages of ripe bananas.

2. January 2008 in Kisumu - old grey-haired men and women are pictured labouring under the weight of stolen TVs and fridges from Ukwala Supermarket; others are seen busy escaping with all manner of things (including cooked food) from the burning Kimwa Hotels (owned by a Meru guy). While that is happening in Kisumu, all across the RV TV cameras show even women running away with old stolen mabati from burning IDP houses.

3. Not to be outdone many peole are burnt in Western Province when a Uganda-bound petrol tanker overturns and the silly folks go with containers to get free/stolen petrol.

With this kind of experience I can see the Nakumatt management instinctively locking the doors to stop the barbarians from running away with stolen merchadise. Unfortunately, they didn't know that the benefits of protecting private property from theft would heavily be outweighed by loss of human lives (thieves or not).

While we mourn and ask questions (such as why there are no fire sprinklers in such a heavily capitalized concern), we should not lose sight of who/what we have become. It is sad to say, but given a chance many Kenyans will steal, or endanger their lives to get a free trinklet or mandazi!

Anonymous said...

I can imagine the level of insenstitivity displayed by the bloggers we are talking of over 50 dead,i wish some of u got a chance to get inside to see for ur selfs seens of burnt children and pregnant women,its high time that we repent as a country

b-carotene said...

Well, this doesnt sound too different from what happened in Industrial area a couple of years back.

Putting the value of the life of a black native aside, even for one sad moment, the Indians make SUPER profits na isitoshe, they are also heavily insured. There is absolutely no rationale I can think of to justify such behavior by people reaping phenomenal profits. Then again, business knows no morals, no?

If it is true that doors were locked, then SHAME ON THEM! I for one will not be shopping Nakumatt for years to come.

Benson said...

Its the worst thing i have seen happen "Close the Doors to avoid looting when the place is on grisly Fires and you have humans in doing shopping???? does this really Justify??? and if anything go anywhere in the world we living on earth' Looting is always there so even in UK' i saw them loot Timber from a collapsed ship!!! its not like kenyans are known to loot n stuff like that.......NO its the time Ringera and the attoney Wako took these Indian suckers to the Prison" Period and we should all boycott Nakumatts Items' if anything they are too corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nakumatt has always had problems, which you wil not hear with Naivas or Tuskys. First was tax evasion allegations, then underpayment and overexploitation of employees, then building on road reserves, then now allegations of closing in shoppers and employees to prevent theft and looting.

I am not a racist, but at times I got a feeling some Asians have more love of money and property than human life. I got a similar feeling after another tragic fire in industrial area where lives would have been saved by basic human safety procedures and policies at the place.

Personally, given the many things affecting Nakummatt, for which I think are not morally right, and though not yet proven there are too many coincidences, WILL NEVER EVER AGAIN SHOP AT A NAKUMMATT STORE. That is my tribute to those who perished, and to families and friends that lost their dear ones

Anonymous said...

As much as Nakumatt might try to dispute, it appears the fire exits had been blocked, ostensibly to deter burglary. Even Nakumatt staff were seen on TV footages escaping through the roof! Should we assume those were the escape routes? Long before Nakumatt took over from Woolworths, there used to be an exit onto Kimathi Street. This had been blocked too.

While we appreciate the management of Nakumatt's decision to block some customers to deter looting, it appears in this instance they had underestimated the intensity of the fire that was later to consume everything including the little they wanted to protect.

In my opinion, the bigger blame for the loss of the many Kenyans in this tragedy still lies with Nakumatt.

I also find it funny that some people are so obsessed with Raila that they cant post a comment even under this sober discussion without mentioning his name!

Concept said...

I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. Remember the industrial area fire some two years ago, same script...same results. A soul lost as the owners chased after an extra coin.Makes me wonder when the 'rich' will ever be called to account for their acts...

Anonymous said...

Railaphobic at 10;28

This post isn't about Raila. We're still mourning those that were shot and killed by mungiki soldiers, and now the nakumatt fire. Please stay away and may you choke on your hatred.

Anonymous said...

Lets boycott Nakumatt stores till they learn to respect human life and ethics:
1. Locking escape route allegations;
2. The previous alternative exits to Kimathi Street turned to wall when Nakumatt took over building yet a public place. No proper fire exit;
3. Allegations of tax evasion which have never been publicly concluded;
4. Allegations of underpayments and over -exploitation of employees early last year;
5. Building on road reserves;

Every Kenyan should demand respect for human life, dignity and ethics

Anonymous said...

Raila is to blame for this fire!

Anonymous said...

The boycott should go further, find out who the owners are and post them in a hall of shame. Anytime one of them starts a business, or gets involved in another business, we should boycott that business.
This would avoid the typical scenario, where they lie low for a while and restart another business, same practices but with a different name.
Also, post pictures so that we can throw rotten tomatoes at them when we see them in the streets, and restaurants of Nairobi.

Anonymous said...

Re: Nakumatt Boycott
While my heart tells me to boycott, my pocket may not agree Due to the large scale of these stores they can sell stuff at low prices and pull customers in and yet they DO NOT CARE about thier well being.

But if they do not pull up their socks up, my heart may just win as there may be no pocket without a heart!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:28 PM,

Like you have been told, this post is not about Raila.

Go take your Raila hatred and shove it up that place between your buttocks where the sun never shines.

Anonymous said...

Only stupid customers would boycott the right goods, of the right quality, and sold at the right prices. Remember the same chorus of "Let us boycott Equity Bank" last year? Fools never cease to amaze me.

So let those who want to be stupid to go ahead and boycott Nakumatt. Why not boycott your govt whose ministers led by Kajuang' line-up for handouts at Nakumatt head office instead of enforcing tax and safety laws.

Anonymous said...

These indians were told to sacrifice black africans so they can continue to amass wealth , im sure the devil thy worship must be very satisfied,how can we be treated as second class citizens in our own country? do you want to tell me that the goods in nakumatt are more valuable than african lives? im yet to see a muhindi who died in that inferno.

Anonymous said...

While we waste time looking elsewhere we stand a top the STINKING FILTH. Here we go:

'Air Kenya' is on auto pilot.The Captain suffers from severe bouts of sleeping sickness!He occasionally wakes up in deep slumber when he encounters a mild storm that rocks the craft but then goes back to sleep despite pleas by passengers to stay awake.Problem is he doesnt know that some of his passengers could have fiddled with the destination indicator and he could be headed to one Moreno's territory!

Didn't Taabu say WE ARE LIVING A NATIONAL LIE! Well serial denial it seems. Tuendelee.

Anonymous said...

Ok chris go on n tel us hw it is wahindi tht killed guys scooping oil frm an overturnd tanker near molo!! Pls go on am waiting! When our morals as kenyans av sunk so low u cnt blame it on politicians leave alone Indians!!

Anonymous said...

We can boycott Nakumatt. Tuskys and Naivas and others have all the quality goods that Nakumatt sells at a cheaper price, yet they are not embroilled in scandals to detriment of Kenyans day in day out. Nakumatt is not the only place to shop in Kenya. There is nothing about being foolish or wise about boycott, it is about standing up for love and value of human life, dignity and ethics. How many of the senior Nakumatt Management died in that fire?

Anonymous said...

Sunday Nation

By GEORGE SAYAGIE and WANJIRU MACHARIAPosted Saturday, January 31 2009 at 22:04

At least 91 people were burnt to death on Saturday when a petrol tanker from which they were siphoning off petrol burst into flames near Molo town.

Many more sustained life-threatening burns in the explosion near Jolly Farm on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway at about 7.30 p.m.

By Saturday midnight Red Cross said they had counted 91 bodies at the scene. The organisation’s head of disaster management, Nakuru region, Mr Caleb Kilande, said the number could rise.

Rift Valley PC Hassan Noor Hassan earlier said that he had ordered 150 body bags to the scene in case the death toll went that high.

Among the injured were police officers who had rushed to the scene after the petrol tanker tipped over.

Two hours after the fire started there had been no effort to put it out and this Sunday Nation writer could still see bodies burning away from a distance of about 50 metres.

The Nakuru Municipal Council’s fire engine arrived at the scene more than an hour after the explosion. Molo town has no fire engine.

Rescuers who rushed to the scene had been unable to move in and rescue the victims due to the intense heat.

Molo deputy police boss Daniel Kamanza told the Sunday Nation that he had counted 50 bodies of people who had burnt beyond recognition.

“The number could even be higher,” Mr Kamanza said.

A huge traffic jam built up on both sides of the highway as police blocked off vehicles to avoid secondary accidents. A number of motorcycles and two vehicles also caught fire in the late evening inferno that attracted dozens of shocked onlookers.

Medical staff at the Molo District Hospital where the injured were rushed by good Samaritans were fighting to save the burnt.

Reports from Provincial General Hospital Nakuru indicated that more than 100 victims of the fire tragedy had been received.

Mr Hassan was last night at the scene of the accident to spearhead the rescue efforts. The fire tragedy was the second to hit the country this week.

An eye witness told the Sunday Nation that officers from a nearby GSU camp were the first to arrive at the scene after the tanker crashed. According to the witness, the officers began demanding a fee from those who wished to scoop petrol spilling from the tanker.

“I heard someone saying that they were going to avenge the fee by starting a fire and left the scene fearing for my life,” the eyewitness said.

“Moments later, I heard the explosion.”

In the confusion the bus left the road and crashed. It is suspected that some of those who burnt were passengers on the bus.

Anonymous said...

isn't high time we started suing for compensation managers and proprietors of buildings and factories who dont take fire safety seriously.Fire exits should never be locked with chains, fire exits should be well labeled, security should not stop shoppers from running away before paying if there is a genuine emergency.staff should attend simulated fire drills every so often.That is what the civilised world do.

Anonymous said...

Nakumat, what really transpired? because we are getting all sorts of stories bout the saftey of nakumat downtown and the city council inspection that was meant to be conducted last monday which the managers refused for the council to inspect.WE DESEVER THE RIGHT TO BE TOLD WHAT HAPPEND BEFORE IT COMES OUT FROM OTHER QUARTERS

b-carotene said...

Anon at 8:00 am. You are the stupid one who doesnt seem to realize there are options outside of Nakumatt. Pumbavu.

coldtusker said...

The DARWIN AWARD is now bestowed on Kenyans who were smoking &/or stealing fuel in Molo.

Anonymous said...

I have not been to this blog in a while & I am shocked to see that Kenya and kenyans have not changed despite everything that has happened over the past two years.

At 10:28 you have mastered the bigots art of politicising and tribalising everything. It is people like you who are destroying kenya. Enjoy the misfortune of others today; I can assure you tomorrow it will be you.

jungu kuu said...

Eti boycott. Why dont you boycott all the companies owned by thieves like Moi, Biwott, UK etc? Nakumatt palyed a part in this disaster by not preparing, but it is upon the city council and the govt to enforce the safety rules. They come, they get kitu kidogo, they go. All our problems come from corruption, and corruption comes from tribal bigotry. By supporting a thief at whatever price just because he is from our tribe we are giving him a carte blanche to do whatever he wants, and we die like flies in the process.

A city like nairobi doesnt have a hydrant to write home about. And they are NOT indians. Kenyans dont value their lives themselves.

Now those guys stealing fuel and they die, it has happened many times before ama? Are we FOOLS? And the police come and order people to line up and pay a fee to be able to siphone the fuel. WTF?!?! The police were supposed to get people as far away as possible from the scene while waiting for experts to deal with the situation. Then Raila comes and asks kenyans to pray for devine intervention!! We DO NOT need devine intervention MR PM we need a stop to corruption and enforcement of laws, if you cant do that you are not in a position to be in gov so please step aside!! The same with KIbaki and his clique. We are tired of his sh*t!! We should have seen massive resignations by now with all the scandals rocking the country. In France the minister of defence resigned after a soldier went bonkers and killed 2 people. Sisi we have no dignity whatsoever. its simple do the job or step aside!!

Our society is rotten to the core, from the politicians to the police to the normal "church-going" "conservative" mwananchi, we have no moral values whatsoever and we have to change sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Kenyans know alot when it comes to ONLY TWO TOPICS: tribal and "cleptocratic" affairs.

They can tell you how the other tribe is bad. They even forget, if members of their own tribe steal, kill and rape them. They will always support their tribes unconditionally.

When it comes to stealing in office, Kenyans are NUMBER 1. They tell you, that where you work is where you eat.

No politician will make a sensible law against corruption and tribalism/nepotism because that's all that they know.

How can you expect such a politician like Kalonzo even to think about initiating a disaster law. Does Uhuru know anything about emergency laws in case a fire breaks or earth quake occurs. Karua, Ababu, Kimunya, Sitoti etc are not people who can contribute to the welfare of this nation. THEY ARE THERE TO DESTROY KENYA AND TO BRING MISERY TO THEIR SLAVES.

Nobody in Kenya will learn from Nakumat fire and Nakuru Trailer hazard. It is not even 2 year ago, when a similar trailer hazard occurred in SIAYA. We have 42 MINISTERS, all busy doing NOTHING.

Poor Kenyans.

Anonymous said...

first off condolences to all bereaved in the double tragedies at nakumatt and sachangwan oil tanker incident

in both instances the accidents and large loss of lives are due to nothing else but an unhealthy dose or mix of greed and incompetence. greed/incompetence in nakumatt case by those managing public facilities turning a blind eye to many glaring faults and hesitancy by floor supervisors to put the lives of customers first before profit.

the sachangwan survivor account is very sad but tells of nothing else but greed and of only perhaps a handful of innocent bystanders.


Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone
I send my condelences to the family and friends of all who have lost a loved one in either the fire in Nakumatt and or the fire in Molo.
I have read all the comments and being an Indian myself who at one point had major business activities in Kenya would call upon all Kenyans to see for once what is happening.
The beautiful Kenya has become a laughing stock as the corruption goes from bad to worst.
In a first world there is a time frame and a warning given but in Kenya TKK or get slamed behind doors without any court case or human rights.
Look at the population and the numbers of each community in Kenya.
Then count by percentage how many lives has been lost.
REcently 2 Indians were murdered in Kisumu for what?
Last elections how many kenyan natives lost their lives and Indian Business man treatened that if such tribes are not removed from the business they will kill them. Was that brought by the Indians?
It is very easy to blame others but for once try to solve the problem and get out of it once and for all.
Corruption is every where in the world and as proverty strikes more and more will turn into filling there own pockets when given a chance.
I was shocked to see the state of Nairobi when visited it last year. As I have mentioned it has becomes worst and I wish all you Kenyans a happy life.
Things have gone beyond the scale where it can return to normal in the next 5 years.
I am asking anyone who has little money to move out of kenya and start a new life in another country.
I have done so by moving to Eastern Europe where property prices are cheaper then kenya.
Check out
And you will see what I mean.

The crime rate is far far less then kenya and the life style is 100% better.

All the best from the Kenyan Indian.

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