Normally coverage of Rwanda’s entertainment scene involves musicians launching their albums and what not. That is, until weeks ago when fire broke out at B-Club Discotheque in the posh suburb of Nyarutarama.
By sheer luck, the fire was not fatal because it broke out during the day. It is probable that the inferno would have claimed many lives had it broken out at night. This inferno got me thinking about the safety of Kigali night spots.
Over the years, Kigali has seen a surge in night spots and other places of leisure. In some places revellers find themselves packed like the proverbial sardines in a tin. Nobody seems to think about safety plans just in case of disaster.
I find what happened at B-Club not to be unique. Experience shows that night clubs are vulnerable to outbreaks of fire.
In the past, there were reports of fire in different night clubs in various countries including Russia and Thailand, where in 2009 a nightclub fire killed about 70 people. Another 100 lives were lost in a blaze that razed a nightclub in the US in 2003. There are many examples of this kind of tragedy.
On the few occasions I have visited Kigali nightclubs on holidays like New Year I’ve found the places filled to capacity.
The doors marked ‘emergency exits’ are unfortunately normally locked. This leaves one wondering what would happen in the event that fire or any other problem and pandemonium broke out. I think more people would lose their lives due to a stampede than the fire.
Night club proprietors must put the necessary emergency measures in place without waiting for disaster to strike. There is no need to place the lives of revellers at risk.
To nightclub owners, “do not lock the emergency exits”.
To avoid being involved in some fatal incidents, there are some things revellers could look out for next time you go clubbing: Does the club have a limit on the number of revellers admitted? If there is no room to move means that the number of casualties, in case of fire outbreak, would be numerous.
One visits a night spot to have fun. However, people should be aware that the fun that one seeks can quickly become sour.
One shouldn’t switch off their sense of awareness. Many people drink themselves silly leaving them vulnerable to different problems like the dreaded HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease. Be careful; think twice.
James Tasamba is a journalist with The New Times