No, God is not punishing Kenyans like I heard some preachers say. Why would He? The God I know has never held poverty against those who are in that situation. What happened at Nakumatt was an accident whose impact would have been tremendously minimized had people been trained to deal with such emergencies. What I still find troubling was that thousands of curious wananchi actually stood right within the area of the ravaging inferno even as the gas tanks exploded right in front of them. How could it be that they didn't sense the present and active danger they were exposing themselves to? And how can it be that my fellow Kenyans could expose themselves to the deadly fumes emanating from the burning building?
I'm still stunned.
The Sachangwan tragedy is easier to explain. Over there, it was a case of poverty-stricken Kenyans trying to lay hands on some badly needed mafuta at home. My heart goes out to them for running right into a death trap. The sad thing is that these two tragedies within a week, coming so soon after the horrible weeks we've had with the incessant bangles and irresponsible behaviour of our politicians and corporate heads, has left Kenyans with a sense that something has gone gravely wrong. Indeed, it's because of this sense of a gathering storm that some preachers are tempted to think God is not happy with us.
To say it like it is, there are tragedies that however prepared we make ourselves will always catch us off guard. Accidents happen. However, I still think the Nakumatt leadership must be charged with criminal negligence and made to pay for the lives that were lost unnecessarily by the reckless behaviour of some of their guards. Just how stupid were these guards? How could they block people who were running for dear life? The fact Nakumatt could hire such idiots is enough to charge them and make them take responsibility for their actions.
As for the tankers, I'm speechless. Those monsters are all over the place, cruising down the streets, even within the cities, with their deadly cargo. We simply have no road-network designed to keep these monsters from residential and city premises. So is there anything the government can do to minimize trouble? To begin with, it would be prudent if a massive safety campaign is launched. Kenyans must be told to keep away from fires. As soon as smoke is detected, folks have no more than five minutes to get out of danger. Don't think of your kipande or birth certificate or your boom box which you just brought home. Think of your life.
That said, I was gratified to see the leaders of the nation out there with wananchi. And you could see the strain and pain in some of them. I hope the images they saw at Nakumatt and Sachangwan goad them to take actions that will keep Kenyans safe in the face of accidents of the kind we've had to deal with.
My condolences to all the families who've lost loved ones, and may the Lord have mercy on us if those preachers should be right.