On July 10, Mr Rodgers Mengo, who was a second-year student at the Kiambu Institute of Science at Technology (Kist), was asleep in his rented single room house at Thathi-Ini village, about 2km from the institution, when gun-wielding robbers forced their way in.
The gang demanded that he surrenders his phone, and when he resisted, one of the gangsters pulled the trigger, causing him severe injuries on his back and abdomen, leading to his death.
The same night, in the same wooden-walled quarters where Mr Mengo an electronics engineering student lived, three other students lost computers, phones and other valuable electronics to the gang.
Ms Judy Wambui, a student, said the gang first raided a house belonging to a young couple, who were Mengo’s next-door neighbours and stole two mobile phones and Sh500 before moving to deceased’s house.
RAIDED TWO MORE ROOMS
After shooting him, they left but immediately returned and raided two more rooms belonging to her fellow students where they stole two laptops and a TV set.
The incident brings to the fore the security risks the institution’s students are exposed to.
The area where the thugs attacked hosts hundreds of students, who live there due to the proximity to the school.
Out of the about 3, 500 students at the institution, only 600 are accommodated within the school, with the others renting houses in Kiambu Town, Indian Bazaar, Kirigiti, and Thathi-Ini.
The latter two are the most popular with the students since apart from being near the school, the houses are cheaper compared to other areas.
A single room like the one Mengo lived cost Sh3,000 while in Kiambu Town and Indian Bazaar, where houses are stone-walled, a single room costs Sh4,000 and above depending on the location.
The houses that most students can afford do not have adequate security features and most of them are either iron-sheet or timber-walled.
They also do not have perimeter walls, and some of the locations, especially in Thathi-Ini, are generally insecure.
Kist students’ president Mr Franklin Ng’eno said in the past, there have been several incidences of students being waylaid while returning to their houses in the evening and robberies where students lose laptops and phones.
“Students no longer carry their laptops or computers because they fear they will be attacked while walking home because the shortcut routes used by the learners are very insecure,” Mr Ngeno said.
NO COMMERCIAL HOSTELS
Unlike in other towns which host public and private technical institutions, in Kiambu town, there are no commercial hostels, and, therefore, the locals have constructed cheap houses as they seek to cash in on the rising demand for housing by the students.
Some students have also been forced to jointly rent one bedroom houses in the flats within Kiambu town, Kirigiti and Indian Bazaar, where they cost Sh10,000 and above per month depending on the location.
A spot check by the Sunday Nation established that up to four students share a unit, and with no rules to be adhered to, male and female students are sharing a flat.
This exposes them to different social ills since they live as they wish, and even hold night parties in their respective houses, which involves consumption of alcohol.
Mr Joseph Kariuki, a tenant at one of the flats in Kiambu Town, said they recently reprimanded some students after they turned unruly during a night party that had been organised by their colleagues who live in the flat.
“It was past midnight and they were shouting all over. Some of them were drunk and we had to reprimand them so that we can enjoy a peaceful night,” Mr Kariuki said.
Kist principal, Mr Michael Ndung’u, said though the management is concerned about students’ safety, there is little they can do since it’s no longer the institution’s responsibility to mind how the students live.
According to Mr Ndung’u, students preferred living outside the school so that they can have the freedom they want.
“When we admit students, they scramble for accommodation within the school but then move out. Some even cheat parents that they live in the school hostels yet they have already moved out,” the principal told the Sunday Nation.
Mr Ndung’u asked investors to come up with affordable and quality accommodation for students to rent.
“Parents should also talk to their students so that they can stay safe in the rented hostels.”