Kilifi County Government plans to relocate a fire station which is located within an estate in Kilifi County.
The project which is funded by the World Bank jointly with the State Department for Housing shall be implemented by the Kilifi Town Municipality through the Kenya Urban Support Program.
Authorities involved in the relocation have already identified another piece of land which they describe as safe for fire services as opposed to the current location.
Journalists who toured the ‘fire station’ however described the station as being in the middle of an estate, Ngala Estate, which belongs to the Ministry of National Housing within the township.
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It emerged that the firemen share small decks set up in two rooms one of which is a kitchen and there is no office or ground for the personnel to exercise.
The firemen are also forced to conduct their exercises openly in the glaring eyes of residents living within the estate.
Additionally, at the entrance of the ‘fire station,’ there are boda-boda operators who park posing a risk in case of emergencies.
Children are also reportedly playing infront of the fire engine which is the only space they can within the estate.
Moses Gunda Munga the Kilifi County Chief Officer in charge of housing, physical planning, and urban development said what they have in the housing estate was not a fire station but a parking area for a fire engine.
He said the operations and services of a fire station cannot come into play because there has to be dormitories for the firemen and those handling the fire engine.
“We need training areas for this firefighters so that they are physically fit almost on a 24-hour basis, they need to be accommodated there which requires a dining hall that cannot happen within a confined space,’’ he said.
Munga for that reason added that they opted to get a one-acre piece of land which can adequately accommodate all those facilities.
He said the municipality through its board did a round of public participation sessions and one of the projects that the public identified was a fire station and an emergency response center.
The chief officer said the facility is critical because it is the only fire station available in Malindi municipality.
”That project will be undertaken in the next cycle of the next Kenya Urban Support Program, after a particular site was identified within the outskirts of the CBD,’’ he said.
In addition, Munga said they have consultants on board who have come up with the design of the station saying that within the next one week there would be a groundbreaking ceremony for the project.
Currently, he said Kilifi County has five fire engines and one of the engines is parked at one of their housing estates which is very inconveniencing.
Munga said once the fire station is in place the county government intends to acquire more fire engines.
“This fire station will be able to cover key areas from Kilifi North to South, Rabai and Mariakani areas rather than relying on what has been there, the fire engine has to come from Malindi, so for us it’s one project which we believe will improve in terms of safety,’’ he said.
Locals living within the estate who were interviewed said the fire station should be relocated immediately because it is inconveniencing their lives.
Rose Riziki a resident of Ngala Estate who said they don’t feel comfortable as such a facility is supposed to be away from the estate.
She added that they have children who often play at the station and during emergencies which can be dangerous because the response is normally done in a hurry.
Moreover, she said whenever the fire engine siren is blown it affects those around especially the sick and those who have newborn babies.
“We would like to see this fire engine relocated to another area, since they came here, we have not had a problem with them, they are good people the environment here is just not conducive for them to operate, “she said.
Joseph Mugambi a boda-boda operator who works right infront of the fire station also said the siren is affecting people at night.