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Kenyan fuel tanker explodes at Goli customs border

NEBBI – Businesses were last Friday paralyzed at Goli custom border when a Kenyan fuel tanker registration number KCN-019Q/ZF7830 that was transporting fuel to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via Goli customs exploded in a huge flame of fire.

The accident happened in the morning hours around 4:00am and fortunately, didn’t claim any lives but destroyed a lot of properties.

Residents of Mboma East village, Jupangira sub-county in Nebbi district, where the accident happened were stranded without food and shelter after the incident. The affected families had to take refuge with relatives and good Samaritans.

According to Moses Kyeyamwa, the Operations Commander (OC) at Goli border post, the incident forced some of the affected families to take refuge with nearby communities. Residents described the incident as similar to an explosive bomb going off with a blaze which could have been sparked by friction of the tyres due to the distance covered by the trailer.

He adds that, the diesel fuel tanker carrying an estimated 25,000 liters of diesel heading to DRC arrived at Goli border post from Kampala and caught fire shortly after parking by the roadside.

Unfortunately, the fire extended to another stationed petrol fuel tanker registration number 0887AA07/0888A07 which later burnt a parked coaster 200 meters from the first incident due to the spreading flames.

“Police had running battles with local residents who had gone to collect the spilt fuel from the flamed fuel tanker to avoid loss of lives. Since the heat couldn’t be controlled, police cut National Water Sewerage Corporation water pipes to quell the spreading flames,” Kyeyamwa said.

He says businesses which used to boom at Goli border were paralyzed for the whole day as police officers and fire brigades were draining fuel from the burnt trailer for easy access of the road to avoid another risky accident.

One of the eye witnesses John Okurboth, who arrived at the scene in time says, the few people who reported at the scene started mobilizing for sand and water before firefighters arrived at the scene but still, they were overpowered by the thick and toxic flames coming from the burning fuel tankers.

“I thought it was a rebel attack when I heard explosive sounds going endlessly from my room, since Zombo was attacked by unknown rebel groups from DRC a month ago; so, we also imagined the same situation was repeating itself at Goli border,” Ukorboth said.

Ukorboth adds that some drivers and turn-men who parked their lorries by the roadsides made loud alarms to other drivers to cross the border to avoid another incidence of getting burnt from the spreading fire.

The LC I of Mboma East village Phillip Abok said, the Friday fuel tanker explosion has left a number of families homeless and their properties destroyed by the fire from the explosion and looters pretending to be rescuers.

He says since people are facing partial lockdown, the government should provide food and temporary shelters to the affected families since the vulnerable, elderly mothers and children are spending sleepless nights in the cold and are hungry.

“Mothers and young children were rescued with the help of community members who made alarms to wake up those who were in their deep sleep to avoid loss of lives but still their properties were destroyed in the process of getting rescued,” Abok narrated.

One of the victims Ms. Consulate Madhawun who was staying 3 meters from the explosion says, her family members survived because the wind was blowing towards the western direction, but her properties all got burnt and others were looted by the rescuers who had come to save their lives.

“I thank God for saving my life and that of my family since the distance from my house to the road was so near. If it was not because of God, we would have all died,” Madhawun said.

Scovia Gamba, a mother of two who used to run a local hotel at the border says, she lost her properties worth more than Shs 5 million to the explosive fire since the incident happened early morning which made it difficult to rescue her properties.

She adds that the incident happened when she had just borrowed a loan of Shs 2m to boost her food vending business at Goli border. Her business was also affected by the 42 days’ lockdown which prohibited the inter district mobility of public and private transport to curb the spread of Covid19.

Scovia who started her local hotel business at the border narrated that, she started her business in the year 2018 with a capital of  Shs 500,000 and she was able to take care of  her elderly parents to survive but, it’s going to be hard to regain her business because she will be hard hit by limited capital to stabilize her business again.

However, the district Chairperson Emmanuel Urombi says, the district is conducting assessments to ensure the affected families are helped.

“The district has no capacity to provide any relief items to the affected families but, the tragedy has been reported to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for further management,” Urombi said.

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