22 January 2019

Rwanda: Five Injured in Rwamagana Steel Factory Explosion

Five employees of Rwamagana based steel factory, SteelRwa, were yesterday reportedly injured following an explosive.

The explosive detonated at around 1am inside the steel factory, which is located in Munyiginya Sector.

Three people were severely injured and transferred to Kigali Military Hospital and The University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

One person lost an arm and a leg, according to factory officials.

Two others who sustained minor injuries were taken to Rwamagana Provincial Hospital where they received treatment.

SteelRwa transforms scrap metal into finished steel iron bars.

Rwanda Investigation Bureau and Rwanda Defence Forces' engineering brigade are looking into the cause of the explosion.

Rwamagana District Mayor, Radjab Mbonyumuvunyi, said the explosive is thought to have been a Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG).

"Since SteelRwa is a factory that operates 24 hours a day, people working in the night shift were unloading raw metal scrap from a truck," he said, adding that workers normally cut them into pieces before they put them in a machine.

They tried to cut the explosive, which injured them, he said.

The mayor's account corroborates with Emmanuel Ndikubwimana's, the Human Resources Officer at SteelRwa.

"We unload the steel loads from trucks, they are collected from all corners of the country, there are even those imported from other countries; it may happen that an explosive can be collected in those loads," he said.

He added: "The process of unloading scrap metal loads can cause an accident if one item is broken."

However, he said, yesterday's case is that employees had doubt about something. They were not able to tell what it was.

"In that uncertainty, one man decided that they cut it, and they had to use electricity, this induced bursting, which reached his co-workers too".

In addition to having general insurance cover, Ndikubwimana explained that factory workers have insurance cover for eventualities like accidents.

Mayor Mbonyumuvunyi claimed that there must have been lack of attention from the people who were working on the metal scrap. "We are urging them to do that job with care, and there should be people in charge of checking the loads at least three times to make sure there are no explosives inside," he warned.

Some workers at SteelRwa told The New Times that accidents stemming from explosives are not rare at the factory, leading to injuries and sometimes resulting into deaths.

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