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Magoha orders closure of ill-fated Kakamega school

By Douglas Dindi
Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
Deputy President William Ruto consoles Shadrack Abuna, who was injured in the Monday stampede, at Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital, yesterday. Photo/DPPS
In summary
    • “We urge the government to act with speed and in the best interest of the welfare of the children and probe the matter to its core and come up with a plausible way forward, which will ensure such a tragedy never happens again”  - Law Society of Kenya chair Allen Gichuhi.
    • “As we express our sincere condolences to the bereaved families of the young boys and girls, we are appealing to the ministry to make sure thorough investigations  are conducted to establish the cause of the stampede” -Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli.

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has ordered the closure of Kakamega Primary School for a week following the Monday evening stampede that claimed 14 lives. 

Urging for calm, Magoha said the government was committed to investigating the matter conclusively.

 “I’ll not accept a report saying the children were running away from nothing,” he said.

This came as some pupils interviewed by the People daily painted a picture of a teacher wielding a cane at one end of the balcony on the second floor and frightened pupils scampering toward the staircase on the other end. 

One pupil claimed access to the staircase at one end of the building is limited to teachers and the other on the extreme end to pupils.

 Meanwhile, the 37 pupils who suffered minor injuries in the stampede have been discharged from hospital.

Only eight pupils are still undergoing treatment at the Kakamega County Referral Hospital.

The eight include two who are admitted at the intensive care unit, three in the surgical ward and three others in the general ward. Nine girls and five boys were trampled to death in the stampede. 

Deputy President Ruto who also visited the school yesterday said investigations were being conducted to establish the cause of the accident. 

“We are giving our security team ample time to find out the cause of the stampede. This will help us to come up with measures that will prevent recurrence of such a deadly event,” he added.

The government’s multi-agency team investigating the stampede has established that learners affected were in classes Four and Five, which are accommodated in first and second floors of the affected building.

Offer assistance

Ruto said the government would offer assistance to the bereaved families, adding that the process would be coordinated jointly by the national and the county government.

 “Affected learners, parents and their families will be counselled,” said Ruto adding: “We wish quick recovery to the survivors of the incident.” 

 Those who accompanied him included Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, Education Principal Secretary Dr Belio Kipsang, Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna, Regional commissioner Anne Ngetich, and Lurambi MP Titus Khamala.

Earlier, the leaders held a closed-door meeting with the school head teacher Dickson Wanyangu, before the CS announced the closure to allow pupils and parents to recover from the tragedy.

 Oparanya sent his condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and called for quick investigations into the cause of the stampede. 

Meanwhile, the Law Society of Kenya yesterday promised to offer free legal advice to those affected by the incident. 

 LSK chair Allen Gichuhi said the service would be offered through their Western Kenya Branch.

At the same time, Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary general Francis Atwoli called for proper investigations into the tragedy.