This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Poorly Laid (Criminally) Inept Plans

"In preparation for this, teams of security marshals comprising of staff and students together with the emergency response team were trained on evacuation, assembly points and exit points. Unfortunately, some students and staff panicked and got injured."
"We have started an intensive assessment of key lessons learned during this simulation. We will reveal these to the necessary authorities."
Statement, Strathmore University, Kenya
strathmore university
@OduwoNoahAkala -- Terrified students could be seen hiding on window ledges from supposed attackers in photos posted on social media

"I ran into a classroom, but the gunshots still intensified. I jumped through the window and saw some of my colleagues also trying to jump in the same manner."
Strathmore University student
Kenyan universities began a process of security drills in the wake of the Garissa school attack when Islamist jihadists had successfully mounted a deadly assault in April against the school that resulted in the death of 148 people. Seems like an idea whose time had come; to ensure that all schools had in place routines that would lead to the safety of the students whose security and well-being they are entrusted with.

But if, during the process of mounting such a drill, no notice that it is being carried out is received, reasonably enough people will take it for a real terrorist attack.

And this is precisely what happened when the Nairobi-based university became involved in a drill that no one had advance notice would proceed. Instead, because no intercom message went out to warn: "This is a drill", students and staff went immediately into survival mode, panic ensuing as everyone attempted to escape the environs where shots were being heard.

Those who succeeded in exiting the school waded through the Mbagathi River.

They had to climb out of windows, perching themselves over promontories of the university walls, hoping to find some way out of the dilemma that was making them sitting ducks. One woman desperate to escape what she must have felt was an imminent death at the hands of jihadis, was an employee of the university, 33-year-old Esther Kindambi whose leap from the third floor of the building led to her death.

injured student at strathmore
EPA -- Ambulances which were only meant to be part of the drill had to be used to take the injured to hospital
Before the panic subsided, about thirty people were injured. The school's communication director confirmed the death and the university stated that an "approved safety and security simulation drill" had taken place for the purpose of testing the school readiness in its emergency team should an attack occur. Rubber bullets were being used in the drill, but the people on campus heard shots that sounded very, very real and absolutely threatening.

It had been approved, however, and that's what matters. Safety and security are, after all, acutely needful. Will a lesson be learned as a result of this unfortunate misunderstanding? What about the 'lesson learned' when, during a similar exercise at Kenyatta University six students had been injured, requiring hospital care?

Kenya has been targeted by attacks from al-Shabab on frequent occasions. Leaving Kenyan security forces open to criticism for failing to respond in a timely manner to warnings and attack reports. "The *Strathmore Drill was like those medieval medicines that were more dangerous than the diseases they were trying to cure. Tragic." drolly observed Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo.

Government incompetence is always unfortunate, but when it becomes a matter of safety and security going so badly awry, it is not more incompetent, it veers into criminality.

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