Police grill Molo tanker driver again


Published on 06/02/2009

By Standard on Saturday Team

For the third time, police in Molo have grilled the crew of the fuel tanker that exploded in SachangÕwany killing 130 people.

Criminal Investigations officers interrogated the driver, Mohammed Salim, 31, and his co-driver Justus Mwangangi Mutunga, 21. The pair was first summoned to the Nakuru traffic police headquarters before they were transferred to Molo.

Molo DCIO Mwenda Ethaiba said the driver was recalled to clarify some issues in his statement on Thursday.

ÒWe are still investigating the incident with our focus being the cause of the fire,Ó he said.

The co-driver recorded a statement for the first time on Thursday and gave an account of events similar to that of his colleague.

The driver said he parked the tanker to answer a call of nature but it overturned, landing in a ditch. The co-driver said the soil where they stopped was loose causing the tanker to overturn due to its heavy weight last Saturday.

The two said they had collected 50,000 litres of petrol from the Kenya Pipeline Nakuru depot, and were transporting it to Juba, Southern Sudan.

After the tanker overturned, Salim rushed to the nearby GSU camp to seek security and left Mutunga guarding it.

Mutunga recounted how villagers arrived at the scene and started vandalising the tanker to siphon fuel.

Mutunga claimed the mob almost turned rowdy and he took off after he was assaulted. Salim returned with four GSU officers and were later joined by two Administration Police officers.

He warned the villagers to move away from the inflammable product, but they refused.

Mutunga said the tanker exploded shortly after they had left the scene.

And a shortage of staff and lack of supplies has undermined treatment of victims of the explosion admitted at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital with severe burns.

So far 28 victims referred to the hospital have died.

Although the Ministry of Medical Services mobilised doctors and burns specialists to help save lives, lack of facilities hampered their efforts.

Three military doctors and four specialists from Kenyatta National Hospital left the hospital, on Friday.

Sources said the doctors were frustrated because the hospital lacked facilities and supplies.

Meanwhile, the Church has urged Kenyans to use the national mourning period to reflect and change.

ÒWe should ask what have we not done that we ought to have done to prevent future tragedies?Ó said All Saints CathedralÕs the Reverend Julius Wanyoike at a memorial Mass for victims of the Nakumatt and Molo tragedies, on Friday.

ÑBy Beatrice Obwocha, Steven Mkawale and Elizabeth Mwai

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