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Transport crisis as cargo train derails in Mombasa

Harrison Kivisu and Murimi Mutiga @PeopleDailyKe

Transport between Changamwe and Mombasa Island was paralysed for the better part of yesterday after a cargo train hauling some 250,000 litres of super petrol derailed as it negotiated a sharp bend near the Kibarani flyover.

The derailment caused a major spillage of the highly inflammable fuel forcing the government to close the Makupa Causeway which is the main link between Changamwe mainland and the Island at Makande.

According to Shipping and Maritime Affairs Principal secretary Nancy Karigithu, the train which was shunting from Mombasa to Nairobi, was hauling 16 wagons of fuel belonging to Vivo Energy when the accident occurred.

She said the oil spillage has been contained and the process of decanting the fuel has begun. The PS said the cause of the derailment has not been established.

“Out of the 16, five capsised and two derailed. We are managing the situation well with the disaster teams from all agencies,” she said.

“Two wagons carrying 15,000 litre are leaking and more than 3,000 litres had been lost by midday yesterday,” said Karingithu.

“However, we have collected fuel retardant and we have contained the leakage with experts who are here. The idea is to manage the inflammation point and keep the risk as low as possible,” she said.

A multi-agency team comprising of the Ministry of Transport, Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Ports Authority, Kenya Navy, Oil Spill Mutual Aid Group, the police, Kenya Railway Corporation and Mombasa County Disaster team is  involved in the operation to avert a human and maritime disaster.

However, she said the spillage has not reached the ocean and there is no cause for alarm. “Contrary to reports, not a drop has spilled into the ocean, the ocean is about 500 metres from scene of derailment and we are managing the situation well.

Our main priority now is to secure the lives of Kenyans first, the cause of the derailment will be established later,” said the PS. She said the Makupa causeway will remain closed until all the risks associated with the spillage is contained.

Mombasa County Police Commander Johnston Ipara said no casualty was reported and asked residents to keep off the scene of derailment for their safety.

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