Outcry as students spend cold night at Uhuru Park

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021 00:00 |
A KCSE student is assisted by her parent to carry home her belonging in Nairobi yesterday during rush hours to beat the 8 o’clock curfew. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

There was uproar yesterday after scores of Form Four candidates and teachers who had just finished their exams spent Monday night in the cold after the police set up roadblocks on major roads in Nairobi for the third day running to enforce curfew.

Most of the students and teachers had travelled from different parts of the country, but could not proceed to their homes following the 8pm to 4am curfew and had to spend the night at Uhuru Park. 

Most of them were later accommodated at a local church.

“It is saddening that the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education students who finished their exams cannot make it home just to get stranded at Nairobi CBD, Uhuru Park, because they could not beat the curfew.

The government knows and they knew the students were in school. Aren’t they supposed to understand? And it rained,” tweeted one Atieno.

“If KCSE students who were stranded in Nairobi CBD were forced to sleep at Uhuru Park, without food, water, shelter…What makes you think that President Uhuru Kenyatta cares?” added another person only identified as James.  

On April 9, Education Principal Secretary Julius Jwan directed County Directors of Education to work closely with county commissioners and heads of schools to ensure students are facilitated to travel.

They were also expected to organise with transport companies to have the students picked from institutions and ensure those travelling are in uniform and have letters of introduction from the school. 

Schools were to also communicate with parents on transport arrangements.

Incident follows the Saturday evening case where thousands of motorists spent the better part of the night struck in the traffic after police blocked major city roads.

Security officials had erected roadblocks on Thika Road at the Mountain Mall, Waiyaki Way, Kangundo Road at the Kayole Junction, Langata Road, Mbagathi Way and the Eastern Bypass at Baraka.

On Sunday, Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna reiterated that it was important for Kenyans to observe Covid-19 infection and control containment measures if the country were to quickly flatten the infection curve.

“Observing these measures include strictly respecting the curfew time which starts at 8pm for the One Zone and 10pm for the rest of the country. Let this be a collective responsibility,” Col Rtd Oguna said

Legal permits

Nairobi and its environs experienced lots of traffic jams for the better part of Monday afternoon.

Yesterday, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations condemned the police action, saying they were greatly perturbed by the chaotic scenes that occurred on the weekend.

“Police were hindering travel of approved persons holding legal permits to operate during curfew hours,” committee’s acting chair Fred Outa said.

Committee said it was concerned that police had established Kangaroo courts to punish Kenyans, and wondered under which laws they were operating.

“If Kenyans have indeed broken the law then why not charge them and have them appear before the courts and face punishment according to the law?” a committee member asked.

Committee also revealed that the police had subjected Kenyans to operate in panic resulting in several accidents, and warned that lack of coordination on how the 8pm to 4am curfew was being enforced around the city was causing a lot of inconvenience to the members of the public.

As a result, the committee invited the Interior Cabinet Secretary to appear before it on April 28 to explain events that transpired on the dates in question.

Police officers also fell victims of the chaos witnessed across the country, especially in Nairobi.

Pangani station commander and two Traffic Department officers based at Kasarani police station were seriously injured in two separate incidents at the roadblocks.

Three members of the public also sustained injuries.

On Monday around 10.30pm, a lorry from Thika hit a police lorry, which had been parked at the roadblock at the General Service Unit  drift.

Constable Joseph Kiminda suffered skull and right hand fractures while his colleague Corporal Geoffrey Sikolia sustained a left leg injury.

“The officers were rushed to Nairobi West Hospital where they are being treated.

Constable Kiminda is in serious condition but his colleague Corporal Sigolia is in a stable condition,” police reports noted last evening.

The three occupants of the lorry were also injured in and are admitted in hospital. The driver claimed he lost control of the vehicle.

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