Jeff Koinange interviews an eclectic range of guests on his K24 show, Capital Talk, and I watch it when I get the chance. At the climax of each episode, his Bench catches fire. ‘Somebody call G4S!’, he goes. It’s a great line. It captures brilliantly Nairobians’ lack of faith in their taxpayer-funded fire service, and I have always wondered what Nairobi Town Clerk Phillip Kisia thinks of it. Maybe he should tell Jeff that on his next visit to the Bench.
Currently, there is one fire station in Industrial Area, and another opposite the old Nation Centre, very close indeed to the new Nation Centre. Lucky Nationeers. Those of us who live and work farther away from either must hope the firefighters arrive in time. Nairobi’s firefighting capacity has not kept pace with the growth of the city, and so not only is the fire station distant from the majority of urban dwellers, but also from the locations where most fires break out, going by recent events.
It is not clear whether there are serious plans to set up another fire station, or to ensure that should a fire break out in the outer reaches of Nairobi, the fire department will arrive in time. The fires, it appears, will keep breaking out, and the fire department will keep having to lose precious time crossing the city, arriving only to aid salvage efforts long after the fire has prevailed. Promoting Konza City is all very well, but the benefits of an additional fire station would be rather more immediate. If not, then perhaps G4S should levy taxes, so we know where we stand.