NGO survey reveals danger posed to students whose schools are housed in unfinished buildings

Precious Talent Top School, the structure collapsed just minutes after the start of the school day

By Jackson Kairu

The heavily congested city estates in Nairobi are not only home to insecure buildings erected without following safety guidelines, but they also house private academies and primary schools in unfinished buildings that are still undergoing construction.

According to an extensive survey commissioned by the directorate of communication, research, and policy studies at the NGO council of Kenya, the buildings pose a major risk to young learners. Last year the roof to a privately run academy in the Langata area caved in killing a number of young learners at Precious Talent Top School, the structure collapsed just minutes after the start of the school day. It was later established that the school buildings were made of substandard mesh wires, wood and substandard concrete instead of concrete steel supports. To make matters worse the school owner was charged but the county government officials who approved the buildings went scot-free.

The study further revealed that despite constant warnings by the ministry of education and that of health on the importance of observing Covid- 19 health guidelines; cases of poor mask use and almost zero social distance are at play while most of the schools are overcrowded.

A restaurant owner nearby laughed off the social distance rule as she dished out food to overcrowded customers too hungry to care about who was seated next. Most had no mask, and the hotel owner said “colona” is for the rich politicians who are out to make money from donors

While the risk to learners in the half-done buildings remains a constant concern, further studies revealed that poor sanitation caused by blocked drainage and uncollected rotting garbage is a major health hazard. The study also showed there is a looming health hazard from the proliferating eating houses next to the blocked drainage system and overflowing raw sewer “The major risk here is not even Covid -19″ said a maize roaster who was not even wearing a mask, he added that most people are concerned about where they will find the next meal and not worrying about social distance and washing hands. A restaurant owner nearby laughed off the social distance rule as she dished out food to overcrowded customers too hungry to care about who was seated next. Most had no mask, and the hotel owner said “colona” is for the rich politicians who are out to make money from donors.

Chairman of the National Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)Stephen Cheboi

The extensive studies were conducted in Kayole, Dandora, Huruma, Mathare, Kangemi, Dagoretti corner, and Satellite with startling findings on the social distance safeguard against the Covid -19 pandemic.

 Out of every 10 people, only 2 expressed concerns about keeping social distance. Out of 10, only 4 kept wearing masks while the majority had masks on their jaws lowered only worn at the sight of cops. Commenting on the studies, Union of Kenya Civil Servants secretary-general Mr Tom Mboya Odege called on Nairobi County to improve on sanitation, lighting and infrastructure.

“We have many civil servants living in these areas and are exposed to health risks that could be avoidable,” he said. Odege warned that overcrowding in schools was “frightening” considering the ravaging Covid pandemic that spreads faster with the current cold spell in Nairobi. He challenged city sub-county authorities to unblock drainages and sewers and find more efficient garbage collection and recycling processes.

Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS) Secretary General Tom Odege

NGO council chairman Mr Stephen Cheboi in reaction to the studies expressed alarm over open-air cooking of fish and chips below high voltage Kenya Power transformers in Eastlands. He said some of the power poles are made of wood and in case of a fire outbreak, “we could be staring at a major disaster” he warned.

Cheboi also said schools in unfinished buildings are a major risk and wondered how school inspectors allowed the facilities to expose learners to such grave risks “This is criminal negligence from education officials who approved such schools to operate and expose children to grave danger?”, he wondered.

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