Bed-bugs, Kenyatta University's Biggest Headache

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

That almost two years after their infestation, Kenyatta University has not found a lasting solution to end the blood sucking parasites is an embarrassment to the fastest growing institution. It is not only worrying but a shame to the institution that prides itself with modern infrastructure and world class facilities such as the post Modern Library and the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre. History of bed-bugs can be traced back to the year 2010 when only one hostel In Nyayo zone was infested. Hundreds of students could be seen airing their bedding on the sun to get rid of these parasites that dwell in mattresses’ corners and wooden bed frames. Sadly, this only rendered the parasites inactive during the day only to reappear once the lights are off to feed on students’ blood during wee hours of the night.
Many efforts have been ploughed by students and their leaders to numb this annoying insects. Most notable ones include the idea of using hot water in washing the bedding and cleaning the whole room. The idea behind this is to kill the eggs that hatch fortnightly and paralyze the existing ones. There is also the myth about the use of paraffin which is poured around the bed joints to suffocate the insects and eventually kill them. Proposals have also been written by students from various faculties to the directorate of catering and accommodation illustrating ways of ending this menace. However, none of them have been adopted, with the  directorate siting high cost of implementation.
Bed Bug Nymph Feeding
Despite this, the department has made frantic efforts to do away with these parasites. Major one being the replacement of wooden bed frames with metallic ones as beg bugs were seen thrive in hostels that had wooden bed frames. Hostels are also being sprayed before students resume sessions and during the semester upon student's ’request.
Surprisingly, these efforts seem to bear no fruits to the Institution. Barely six months after the replacement of wooden bed frames, bed bugs are back again in most hostels. Interestingly, the parasites have spread to other hostels beyond Nyayo zone although Nyayo hostels still remains worst hit.  A Walk around these hostels reveals unpleasant sites as flower beds are covered with mattresses’. Instead of green, blue (color of mattresses) has taken over the color of nature. An aerial view may give the exact picture of the change of color.  Spraying of rooms have also not done justice to thousands of affected students as the insects become active once the smell is gone. Questions have been raised about the concentration level of the chemicals used by the fumigators with some students seeing it as a way of mincing money from the directorate by both the housekeepers and the fumigators. The major argument is that students who have used their own means to acquire the chemicals to spray their rooms hardly complains about the re-emergence of the insects till the end of the semester. Whether this is a scandal it remains up to the institution to investigate.
My take as a proud student of Kenyatta University is, it is not the money nor lack of research to blame for the current nightmare for students. Kenyatta University has vast resources, man-power, money and facilities to end this crisis. It will not cost the institution a fortune to engage in extensive research on effective ways of curbing these insects from feasting on students or implementing some of the proposals written by students. The amount that the directorate has used so far would have been saved if only it would have taken the right precautions when only one hostel was affected.  Since this is the nature of many Institutions’, the University must now treat this menace as urgent, pull adequate resources and see an end to this shame.  

Reagan Nyadimo
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