Open Lamu schools shut over terror attacks - Boni elders

A file photo of KCPE candidates from terror-prone areas in Lamu during rehearsals at the Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School.
A file photo of KCPE candidates from terror-prone areas in Lamu during rehearsals at the Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School.

The Boni have demanded the re-opening of all schools closed in Lamu’s terror-prone Basuba ward for more than five years.

If the government does not heed to their plea, they have threatened to pull every Boni child out of school in protest.

They have also vowed not to release their children to go to the safe learning centre set up by the county government at Mokowe Arid Zone Primary School in Lamu West.

Speaking in Lamu on Monday, Basuba ward MCA Barissa Deko said they are disappointed by the government’s silence yet their children’s future is being compromised.

Residents said Mokowe has not helped much since the centre is already congested and rarely receives new admissions.

The school administration has complained of overstretched resources and poor infrastructure, making it difficult to take in more Boni students.

Basuba, Milimani, Mararani, Mangai and Kiangwe primary schools in Lamu have remained closed since 2014 owing to a spate of terror attacks.

Teachers fled the area and have refused to return even after being enticed with handsome pay and allowances.

"We are giving the government seven days to act. Five years is a long time, a solution should have been found," Deko said.

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Parents are worried about their children's safety when they travel to Mokowe.

They either hike lifts from security vehicles or travel by boat on the Indian Ocean because of lack of transport.

Security vehicles have become a target of IED attacks by al Shabaab militants.

On June 27, 2017, four pupils from Basuba were among eight killed after a police lorry they were travelling in ran over an IED at Ota along the Mararani-Kiunga road.

The pupils were returning to school in Kiunga after attending Eid celebrations at their homes in Mararani.

"Neither the roads or the ocean are safe. The ocean has rough tides, we worry that one day our children will die while going to school," Deko said.

Boni elders' spokesperson Doza Diza said it is unfair for their schools to remain closed yet terror attacks happen in other areas.

"Mpeketoni had a worse attack in 2014 as well as Hindi, Witu and Kibaoni. Why is it that their schools have not been closed?" Diza asked.

The elders accused the government of leaving the county government to shoulder the burden.

They want to government to sponsor Form Four leavers in the area to teachers training colleges to fill the shortage.