Kenya: Risky Boat Rides to School for Baringo Learners As Lake Water Floods Roads

19 January 2021

For learners at Loruk Primary and Loruk Secondary schools in Baringo County, it is a gamble between risking lives to get education or missing school altogether.

When the government re-opened schools in January, the pupils found their school on the verge of being flooded by the rising waters of Lake Baringo.

Swollen lakes disrupted the transport infrastructure as some routes to school were submerged by the lake waters, forcing learners to use boats to cross the two-kilometre stretch to school.

With this mode of transport, they risk being attacked by deadly reptiles and hippos, notwithstanding the risk of boat accidents.

Alternatively, they have to navigate through the bushy routes around the lake to school, a distance that takes between 30 to 40 minutes to cover.

Wake up early

Eugene Kipserich, a Class Seven pupil, says he is forced to wake up earlier than usual in order to catch the first boat trip to school.

He says they are charged Sh30 per person for a trip.

"This is too expensive for us because we have to ask for Sh60 every day from our parents," says Kipserich.

He notes that sometimes, their books get soaked with waters while on the boat.

"While on the boat we meet with crocodiles along the way and I get so afraid that they might attack us," he says.

At least 50 of the 200 primary school pupils have been affected by the swelling of Lake Baringo.

Abigail Chongo who, is in Class Seven, says she walks for at least three days in a week along the long route to school because her parents cannot afford to pay for her boat trips daily.

Late and tired

According to the girl, the route is long and risky and she often gets to school late and tired.

"It is dangerous walking alone along the bushy route so I always run throughout," said the girl.

Rev Elijah Cheruiyot, who is the chairman of the parents association at Loruk Primary School, confirms the transport challenge faced by the pupils.

He regrets that the affected pupils are now missing lunch because they cannot go home during lunch breaks.

He is appealing to the government to provide them with a bigger boat that can facilitate the learners' movements to and from school.

"The available boat is too small and has to make several trips to ferry all the pupils so it is my request to the government to consider providing a boat to this school to ease movements," says Mr Cheruiyot.

Teachers inconvenienced

He notes that teachers are also inconvenienced because some of them also depend on the same boat.

Mr Cheruiyot further explains that the school also lacks enough classrooms to meet the social distance guidelines set by the government.

According to him, allowing pupils to study under a tree in the area prone to banditry attacks is exposing their lives to danger.

"In this area, no day passes without us hearing a gunshot with some fighting happening just around the school. Having the children study under a tree will be a big challenge in terms of concentration as well as a risk to their lives in case of attack by bandits," says Mr Cheruiyot

Sibilo Location Chief Joseph Chemitei says the movement challenge facing the schools has contributed to absenteeism among learners.

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