Parents of Moi Girls School, Nairobi demand removal of school heads

The burnt dormitory of Moi Girls Secondary School

Parents of Moi Girls School, Nairobi, have demanded the removal of the school principal, matron and the entire board of management.

The parents also want the dormitory burnt in the Saturday morning tragedy demolished and a new, safer one constructed for their traumatised daughters.

The Form One parents vowed not to bring back their daughters on September 15 as directed by Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i unless safety measures ordered by the Ministry of Education were implemented.

The CS ordered the school closed for two weeks after fire gutted down a dormitory in which 350 Form One girls were sleeping.

So far, nine girls have died following the fire tragedy on Saturday morning. Those still missing after the tragedy include Hannah Hawa Aziz, Nancy Wamuthere, Natalie Nanga Asiyo, Esther Onyari, Hannah Jeyso and a student identified only as Marsha.

Stormy meeting

In a stormy meeting at the school yesterday, parents accused the school management of negligence and high-handedness, which they said contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

"These people are the problem. A security guard has more power here than a parent. When you bring your child here, the security man stops you at the gate and turns you back," said a parent.

The parents also demanded to know why the school administration did not notify them of the strategy. They wondered that the fire began at 2am but they only got to hear about it, not from the school, but the media.

"The school administration has our contacts, the teachers did not pick calls, those who did said they were away from school," one parent said.

The angry parents stormed out of the meeting organised by the school management to counsel them and their daughters, instead demanding to be addressed by the principal and board of management (BOM).

During the meeting, it emerged that the school, which is 50 years old, has not put in place fire safety measures.

"We are here mourning but we have been called for a meeting where nothing is being said. We are not bringing our children back until all our our concerns are addressed," said an angry parent.

The parents said the ill-fated dormitory and all the others in the school have no fire equipment, no exit doors and their windows are sealed with metal grills.

"It is a shame that a school with a big name like this has no smoke detectors, no fire alarms, no fire extinguishers and students are never drilled on fire management," said a parent.

This emerged as more harrowing details, some smirking of negligence, continued to emerge about the incident.

According to witnesses, all the 350 students could be alive today, were it not for the negligence of the management.

"We rushed on the scene to try and rescue the children but the gate to the dormitories was locked, making it near impossible to get to the dormitory on fire," said a man who was among those first on the scene.

He added, "It is the girls who tried their best to save themselves. If the school had security measures in place, they could have easily come out of the building."

The Standard established that a girl, who was returning to her bed after showering, realised there was fire on one of the mattresses and raised the alarm.

Yesterday, some of the Form One students who had accompanied their parents to be grilled by investigators narrated how they escaped and watched their friends die helplessly.

The students pointed fingers at one suspect.

"This fire was started by one of us who is on record saying she did like this school. She said she will burn the school to teach the parents and the administration a lesson," said one of the students.

The suspect is said to have set her mattress on fire at about 2am. In the ensuing fire, the girls were trapped.

"We were woken up by choking smoke and we couldn't run anywhere. We rushed to the door but it was locked. We rushed to the first floor and broke the only small window that has no grills and began jumping out," another student said.

Some of them narrated how they rushed to the matron's house to wake her up and accused her of slow response.

The parents wondered why the girls, some as young as 13 were left to sleep in the dormitories on their own without a matron nearby.

"We want to be told why the matron locks the gate to the dormitories and goes away with the keys,"said one parent.

The Standard established that it was only after two brave girls jumped over the fence and began shouting for help that a policeman stopped by.

"We told him that our classmates are trapped in the burning building, he hailed a boda boda and rushed to the county commissioner's office to get help," a student said.

The students also blamed the security guards who man their school for doing nothing to help them.

"We were crying for help yet we could see them taking video pictures of us burning," said a student.

The parents complained that they were not allowed to view their daughters' dormitories.

"We now know the reason is overcrowding. A cubicle meant for four students is now housing eight. This is unacceptable," said a parent.