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10 May 2012

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Kenya Pipeline Company lawsuit (re explosion & fire in Nairobi)


Date lawsuit was filed
10 May 2012
Location of Filing: Kenya
Location of Incident: Kenya
Type of Litigation: Domestic


Kenya Pipeline Company Kenya Oil, gas & coal


Snapshot: In 2012, more than 300 victims of an oil spill in the slum of Mukuru-Sinai, Nairobi, filed a lawsuit against Kenya Pipeline Company, among others. They allege the defendants acted negligently in constructing the oil pipeline in the middle of the slum and failed to uphold their duty of care. Defendants allege they do not bear direct responsibility for the damage. Proceedings are ongoing. 

On 12 September 2011, a spillage occurred from a pipeline owned by Kenya Pipeline Company, running through the slum of Mukuru-Sinai, in an industrial area of Nairobi.  As slum dwellers went to collect the fuel that was spilling, the pipeline exploded.  A fire broke out in the Sinai area. The explosion and the fire together killed about 120 people and injured hundreds.

In May 2012, more than 300 victims brought a lawsuit against, among others, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Power and Lighting Company, the City Council of Nairobi, and the National Environment Management Authority.  They claim that the defendants acted negligently in constructing an oil pipeline in the middle of the slum, without putting adequate fire equipment in place, and failed to uphold their statutory duties.  The plaintiffs are seeking over KSh25 billion (worth about US$300 million at the time) in compensation.  The defendants argue that they do not bear direct responsibility for the fire and that the victims have failed to show the defendants have breached their duties under the law.  They asked to be removed from the lawsuit and made an application to the High Court in this regard in November 2012.  In February 2014, hearings commenced in the High Court and the first witnesses testified.  The proceedings are on-going.

- “Nairobi Senator Sonko finally testifies in Sinai fire tragedy case”, Kurian Musa, Standard Media (Kenya), 14 Feb 2014
- “State negligence caused Sinai tragedy, court told”, Vincent Agoya, Daily Nation (Kenya), 13 Feb 2014
- “Sinai slum fire victims anxious over delay in compensation hearing”, Vincent Agoya, Daily Nation (Kenya), 23 Oct 2013
- “City council wants out of Sinai suit”, Alphonce Mungahu, Star (Kenya), 6 Nov 2012
-  “Three seek to be excluded from Sh25bn Sinai fire case”, Daily Nation (Kenya), 5 Nov 2012
- “Sonko has 300 Sinai fire witnesses in Sh25 billion suit”, Alphonce Mungahu, Star (Kenya), 3 Nov 2012
- “Victims of Sinai fire seek compensation”, Isaiah Lucheli, Standard Digital (Kenya), 10 May 2012
- “What government and KPC should do to avert future tragedies in the wake of Mukuru-Sinai slum disaster”, Wambui Kimathi & Louiza Kabiru, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, in Business Daily (Kenya),16 Sept 2011
- Kenya Pipeline Company: Press statement, 12 Sep 2011