Traders left high and dry after varsities shut down campuses
Sunday, May 12, 2019 16:34
By FLORAH KOECHBy WYCLIFF KIPSANG
Businesspeople are among those who have been hard-hit by the closure of five institutions of higher learning in Baringo County.
Landlords, hotels and transporters who relied on the universities’ population to bolster their income are now a disillusioned lot.
Three universities — Mount Kenya, Egerton and Kisii — have closed their campuses in the region due to low student numbers and political interference.
“Our business was doing very well, with students trooping in every lunch hour. We risk closure without them,” said Ms Anne Boit, who runs an eatery near a building which housed Kisii University.
Those who own hostels are also pondering their next move.
Kisii University main campus representatives, led by Prof Kibiwott Kurgat, Dean of Faculty of Information, Science and Technology, were categorical that it was becoming hard for them to continue operating the Kabarnet campus due to inadequate students.
Kisii University Vice Chancellor John Akama issued a memo in February last year to close its branch in Kabarnet town.
According to the letter written to the Deputy Vice Chancellor on February 21 last year, three campuses, including Kabarnet, Migori and Kitale, were to be closed.
“This is to inform you that during the university management board meeting held on 21st February, they approved the closure of the three satellite campuses by 1st May,” the memo read.
The closures have not gone down well with students, who have complained that their studies have been thrown into disarray.
Jamal Okech, a student at Kisii University, said initially he was studying at Eldama Ravine campus before it was closed indefinitely and they had to move to Kabarnet.
“Until when shall we be on the move? We are demanding a clear explanation from the administration,” said Mr Okech.
Last year, the university closed Eldama Ravine campus following a directive by the Commission of University Education (CUE).
The campus was among six that had been given a notice to close for failing to meet the expected threshold. Among the other campuses closed last year were Keroka, Nyamira, Kehanja, Ogembo and Migori.
The institution also laid off more than 11 staff. The affected workers included those in marketing, finance, registry and ICT.
According to a member of staff who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, they were laid off on claims that the number of students had dropped from 1,000 last year to 500 this year.
Other institutions that have since closed in Kabarnet town are Uganda- based Bugema University and Kenya Institute of Management (KIM).