Stand-off at Egerton University as students protest damage fees

Heavy security has beefed up at Egerton University Nakuru main Campus after students protested for the second day over Sh16000 damages imposed on the by the management following their 2019 December strike.

The students’ unrest began on Sunday night and spilt over to Monday morning, where they engaged police officers in running battles.

Approximately 12,000 students who were in session last semester were required to pay Sh16, 862 shillings in damages following last year’s unrest.

The institution was temporarily closed after unrest ensued on December 4, 2019, following the management threat to defer students with fee arrears barring them from sitting for their examinations.

Students were expected to resume classes this week but with a requirement that they pay for the damages caused by their previous unrest.

They would only be allowed inside the institution after paying the Sh16, 862 fine but the students complained that the penalty fee is unreasonably high and they want it reduced to at most Sh2, 000.

A section started rioting on Sunday evening, trying to access the university. A move that forced police officers to shoot in the air to disperse the rioting students.

Police camped outside the institution on Monday morning, ensuring that only students who have complied with the requirement access the university.

Those who cannot afford to pay the fee now are required to sign three commitment letters to pledge that they will be paying the amount by February 27.

Failure to pay the fee leads to one being deregistered from the university.

“The damage fee is too much, and we are not going to pay. They should come up with a proper audit and show us how they reached that figure,” said Evans Barasa, a student at the university.

Another Student, Brian Ntyamgeri said: “The fee is extremely high. Unless they reduce the fee before Sh500 we cannot pay.”

The students now want the Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to intervene and revise the fee.

They also called upon Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i to withdraw the police who allegedly beat some of the students.

A faction of students has been nabbed by the police and confined in a security holding room at the institution’s main gate.

It is not yet clear whether legal action will be taken against them or they will be released.

The Egerton University Students Association (EUSA) had issued a memo instructing comrades to gather at the varsity’s gate from where they would stage a demonstration.

“No exams tomorrow, we find you in any exam room we will deal with you accordingly,” read the memo attributed to “EUSA Interim team.”