The Death of a Nairobi Club Patron & What Safety Measures are Put in Place at Nightlife Venues

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Patrons at B-Club Lounge in Nairobi | PHOTO: Facebook

According to recent media reports, Baraka Chacha, a Manager at one of Nairobi’s top insurance firms, plummeted to his death this past weekend, at the upmarket B-Club venue in the city’s Kilimani Estate.

Baraka’s Linkedin profile reads that he was an Economics graduate from the University of Nairobi, with a just-completed MBA from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Economics. He also happened to be the Group Research and Insights Manager at UAP Old Mutual, following a history that eschews brilliance in Research and Strategy.

An alleged eye-witness account testifies to the gruesome incident which took place around 5.30am, as Chacha chose to take the stairway down to either the ground or basement floor of Galana Plaza, then slipped and fell to the floor below. B-Club is situated on the 1st floor of the building.

At the moment, it is however unclear how speedy the response was by the Security team or Management, or whether faster action would have helped the situation. The family of the deceased is awaiting the results of an official autopsy to determine the details.

This would beg the question about what necessary precautions or safety measures nightclubs or entertainment venues in general put in place for the safety of patrons. Whether the City Council closely monitors the design and construction of such establishments and certifies them in accordance with such guidelines.

This isn’t the first time there’s been a fatal incident at a Nairobi club. Most recently in 2015, shocking CCTV footage revealed how a rather inebrieted reveller who was calling it a night, left Club Maxland along Thika Road, toppled over the railing of a flight of stairs, and fell to his death.

The International Nightlife Association (INA) is an international body, currently gaining mileage in the US and Canada, which was established in order to ‘improve the safety in nightlife venues and protect the establishment’s audience’ irrespective of the country. Authorities and entrepreneurs noticed a gap in what sort of measures are put in place to protect owners and patrons from property damage or loss and life-threatening environments. It’s a great vision in theory, but how many bar & restaurant owners would be willing to maintain such basic standards, and at what cost.

INA for instance, certifies venues under three distinct badges: the very basic Bronze level being inclusive of a business license, property damage insurance, training of staff, fire equipment / first aid kits being available and clearly marked exit and evacuation routes.The Silver badge scrutinizes hiring practices, to ensure their are interviews and no favouritism at the expense of professionals, policy development where employees are given manuals and made aware of their content and that staffing is to an adequate ratio of patrons in the establishment at any given time (depending on the size of the venue).

A Gold INA badge would have an entertainment venue maintain a strict anti-violence environment, including monitoring drunkenness and anti-social behaviour, protecting staff from sexual harrassment, voluntary evacuation drills, a minimum of 4 basic trained First Aid responder employees and has CCTV surveillance, with radio communication between designated staff and metal detectors to prevent firearms on the premises.

These all seem like fair expectations from any establishment you would entrust with your safety, time and money, don’t they? There are a host of other technical specifications that come with such certification, which is extensively used in North America, including guides on which materials to use and what sort of architectural practices are best in order to maximise safety of patrons – such as the height of stairways and their general access.

This is not to mean that such measures are full proof. We’ve heard of incidences of stampedes such as last month in Mexico where a gunman opened fire, and in 2003 in Chicago where a stampede of 1,500 people led to the death of 21 as security detail at a nightclub used pepper spray to disperse a fighting duo and the crowd.

Ultimately, security lies with the individual, as one chooses what sort of space they will revel the night, or day, away in. Consider asking: Are there any accessible evacuation points or fire exits? Can you spot a first aid kit? Is the security procedure to get into the establishment thorough? How do the staff treat patrons – with professionalism and courtesy?

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