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Learners compelled to swim to school

Parents of Iyembeni village in Gatanga sub county are a worried lot, as they are forced to watch their children swim through the dangerous Thika River to the nearby Ngoliba primary and secondary school in Thika East Sub county.

This has been occasioned by the collapse of a temporary wooden footbridge that was swept away by rains last December.

Residents have been waiting for government help since and for those who can afford to pay for a boat, they have to part with Sh40 to be ferried on other side of Thika River.

The river, about 20 metres wide, is heavily infested with crocodiles and hippos, and has a sloppy terrain with fast moving currents, thus posing grave danger to both learners and area residents.

A resident Esther Mutuku, says most of their parents cannot afford paying for the daily boat service as they work as casual laborers at the nearby farms.

Mutuku said when they don’t have money, their children swim through the river to get to get to school, adding that some of the learners have even stopped going to school for fear of their lives.

At the same time, parents were also living in inherent fear that their children might be swept by the strong currents or get attacked by crocodiles and hippos.

“Children pay Sh20 per trip to be ferried to the other side. But being casual labourers we can’t afford it on daily basis,” lamented Mutuku.

One of the persons tasked with ensuring kids cross over to school Patrick Mutua said most of the times he does it for free as the pupils have no money to pay him.

Mutua says sometimes he has to maneuver through strong currents and also is forced to fight off the many crocodiles and hippos in the river.

Contacted for comment, Thika MP Patrick Wainaina and his Gatanga counterpart Nduati Ngugi said they are working on modalities to construct a permanent bridge to end the problem.

Wainaina said they have consulted with Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) engineers from both Kiambu and Murang’a counties to facilitate the Construction.

“Our aim is to have a permanent solution, not only for the learners but also residents who have to interact across the river on daily basis This will boost economic development in the two counties. We are working on it and hope works to begin soon,” said the Thika MP.

by Muoki Charles

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