The World Cup fever is here with us. Beginning June 12, 2014 football fanatics across the world will be glued to their screens cheering on their favorite teams. The month long event will reach its climax on July 13, 2014. People who have subscribed to DSTV and other pay channels will get to enjoy live coverage from the comfort of their homes. For the not-so-lucky ones, it will mean catching the action from a pub or restaurant. The FIFA 2014 World Cup season is set to be a flourishing month for owners of these establishments.
However, much as revelers flock into entertainment spots to watch football matches as they have a drink with friends, one question abounds, how safe are these establishments? A visit to most clubs in Nairobi’s central business district reveals the dangers people expose themselves to. Only a few of these clubs do have more than one entrance and exit point. There are no fire exists either and if at all they exist, these have been sealed shut. One shudders to think of what would happen in the event of a fire or other disaster. The ensuing stampede would result in injuries or even death.
On the other hand, despite a directive from public safety authorities, bars and restaurants have done little in form of disaster preparedness. A recent anonymous survey on a few select clubs along Kimathi and Tom Mboya streets had some shocking revelations. None of the clubs we went into had firefighting equipment. This is supposed to be a standard installation in places frequented by members of the public. The risk of fire in nightclubs is so high considering that most of them also double up as restaurants complete with a kitchen where food is prepared. The other imminent threat is that posed by the powerful and expensive sound equipment put in place by owners.
Gone are the days when revelers would go to discotheques and dance the night away. Today, every business operating as a pub has its own disco equipment and a deejay. Given the raving culture resplendent in Kenya’s youth and middle-aged people, it is high time that business owners addressed this safety lapse. It should be mandatory for every entertainment spot to have several fire extinguishers, hose pipes and other safety equipment. These should be inspected on a regular basis. In addition, employees working in these establishments must undergo training on fire fighting skills and first aid.
The entertainment sub-sector serves a critical role in the hospitality industry. It generates employment for hundreds of people. County governments collect revenue in form of license fees while the national government levies taxes on profits generated. It is high time that public safety protocols were observed to the letter. Another safety aspect that has largely been ignored is the fact that club owners do not install CCTV or video cameras. These can be very helpful in monitoring revelers and tackling rowdy crowds before they cause further trouble. Thankfully, security personnel search patrons both physically and through metal detectors to check for weapons and other harmful objects. This is a step in the right direction.