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Fresh evidence emerge of locked exits at Kikuyu Camp deathtrap

Fresh evidence has emerged of how students were stuck in the hostel after the electrical fault at University of Nairobi’s Kikuyu Campus that students mistook for a terrorist attack.

The Nairobi News has obtained pictorial evidence showing that four emergency exits from the hostel were locked with padlocks causing the stampede at the main exit.

The keys to the padlocks, according to a notice which is still on the walls of the death trap hostel, were with the hostel’s custodian who was not at the scene.

Security guards at the campus reportedly fled to safety during the scare and watched from a distance as students jumped down six floors.

The Kimberly hostel has six exits. The two main exists were open during the incident, but four emergency exits were under lock and key.

Only the hostel custodian had keys to the four emergency exits and could not be found on the fateful Sunday morning when students were woken from sleep by explosions from an underground electricity cable.

The hostel, the closest to the institution’s main gate, has wing A and B and occupied either side by female or male on exclusive floors.

Security guards employed by a private firm sub-contracted by the university were at the main gate when the incident happened.

Four guards were at the main gate while six others were patrolling the compound on the night before the scare.


A student, Dickson Mwalimu, whose friend jumped to his death during the stampede told Nairobi News that students were helpless and resorted to jumping through windows.

“None of the guards came to the student’s rescue or even establish what exactly had transpired,” he said.

One of the emergency exits at Kimberly hostel at the UoN's Kikuyu Campus with a notice informing students that keys are with the hostel’s custodian. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS
One of the emergency exits at Kimberly hostel at the UoN’s Kikuyu Campus with a notice informing students that keys are with the hostel’s custodian. PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

He described the scene as “confusion galore” as students struggled to come out of the hostel not knowing what had happened.

“As they were fleeing from the unknown they even made students in another hostel called Annex to jump out too as they saw their colleagues running,” he added.

The Annex hostel is three-storey with a concrete pavement on one side but a grass lawn on the other side. The students jumped on the grass lawn and ran towards the field where the rest of their colleagues were seeking refuge.

As students ran towards a smaller gate situated at the institution’s field, they were screaming that the campus had been attacked but none of them knew what kind of an attack it was.

“Part of the reason why the explosion made people think it was a terror attack is because there had been memos around the campus urging students to be vigilant after the Garissa University massacre,” said Mr Mwalimu.

Public institutions have been on high alert since the early morning attack at Garissa on April 2 in which 148 people were killed.

The Kikuyu Campus students are still living in fear as no armed police officers have been deployed to patrol within the institution.


“Late last year students were being attacked and mugged at night right outside the campus and the administration said it would get armed policemen to patrol, now we have had students being injured after an explosion that they thought was an (Al-Shabaab) attack and still there are no officers,” said one of the students.

The students insist that much as those injured are receiving treatment, the rest of the students ought to be counseled to handle the trauma. They also want the Dean of Students to address them on measures taken to ensure their safety.

“Were it not for my upcoming exams, I would be long gone because every time night comes I feel unsafe and even visualize my nearest exit in case of an attack,” added the student.

For Mr Mwalimu, he says he might have been lucky not to have been inside Kimberly hostel when the incident happened but is still worried that attackers could descend on the institution.

“At Garissa University, it also started with an electric fault in December then in April the institution was attacked. We need police to be deployed to the public institutions just like private universities are hiring armed officers to protect students,” he added.

One student jumped to his death while 167 others are still nursing injuries from the stampede. By Thursday, 29 of the injured were still admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital.

The university has since opened all emergency exits including those in the smaller hostels.

The security guards are still not alert as thorough screening of those accessing the institution is still not being done.

Examinations at the Kikuyu campus have since been postponed to next week allowing injured students to recuperate.