|School children rounded up from Klub Finas and Montana pub after police raided the premises in Nairobi [PHOTOS: COLLINS KWEYU/STANDARD]|
By Cyrus Ombati
NAIROBI, KENYA: More than 1,000 underage revellers were on Sunday evening arrested in bars during a police operation in Nairobi County.
Police launched the mop-up operation following complaints that most bars and clubs in the capital’s downtown were full of school-going children and that some of them were mugging pedestrians.
The number of teenagers patronising bars and nightclubs had apparently shot up over the ongoing strike by teachers who are demanding payment of their allowances.
Kenya National Union of Teachers called the industrial action, resulting to the closure of public schools across the country.
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Central police boss Patrick Oduma said cells were filled to capacity and that they were forced to set free some of the teenagers.
“It is shocking to arrest such a big number of children from bars and clubs. They were busy dancing and some taking alcohol, smoking bhang and cigarettes, which is wrong,” Mr Oduma told The Standard.
Oduma said his office had issued warnings to most bar operators against allowing underage party-goers into their premises, citing punitive measures for those caught flouting alcohol laws. “We intend to charge the operators where these children were found and even apply for the cancellation of their licences,” he added.
The police boss said some of those arrested are usually involved in mugging sprees whenever they leave clubs late in the night.
Cases of attacks and robberies have been increasing in the past days and police attribute them to youths idling in estates and in the town.
The operation started with police lorries blocking entrances of targeted premises, especially along Dubois Road, before officers walked in and ordered DJs to switch off blaring music. Some of the schoolchildren managed to jump out of the clubs and escaped on foot. Oduma said they may be forced to free all the youngsters who were arrested depending on the situation on the ground.
He urged parents to take care of their children and know their whereabouts. “Some of them were drunk and could not comprehend where they were, which forced us to lock them in cells until they sober up. It is a shame,” Oduma said.