Boat operators in Lamu County will soon be forced to undergo age assessment test in a move to weed out under age children who are said to be actively involved in the water transport business in the county.
Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said his office will not seat back and watch children of school going age loiter in the streets of Lamu while others working as coxswains instead of staying in school and learn.
Lamu has over 5000 boat operators working in the various islands in the archipelago.
Speaking to Coast Newspaper, Mr Kanyiri said he had already instructed Assistant County Commissioners, Chiefs and headmen across Lamu County to ensure only adults are involved in the boat operation business.
He warned lazy chiefs of dire consequences if they fail to ensure all children of school going age are sent to school in their various areas of jurisdiction.
The county commissioner said the age assessment test will also be extended to boda boda operators working across Lamu County to ensure only those of appropriate ages work in the sector.
“Schools are open and I want to send a message to all parents to ensure their children are sent to school. I am aware that many school drop outs are involved in boat operation business in Lamu. We will be coming for you. Even if it means conducting a massive age assessment test for all our coxswains in Lamu, we are ready to do that so that those of school going age are taken back to class. The same will also apply to boda boda operators,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He said, “Chiefs who are lazy and lax in their mandate, including ensuring children in their areas remain in school shall be fired. The government’s stand is to have all children of school age stay in school instead of loitering on the streets during school time.”
He insisted that chiefs had a personal duty and mandate of ensuring children of school going age in the areas actually go to school.
He said education was the only redeemer that will bring down the high levels of poverty, crime and drug use in the region.
Mr Kanyiri urged parents to cooperate with chiefs, police and his office to ensure Lamu develops to the level of other counties out there.
“Development can’t be attained if children are left to do what they want and skip school. This county won’t change if all that children can do is boat and boda boda operation, sniff drugs and cause mayhem by engaging in crime. Education is free and that’s why we will punish any parent who doesn’t send their kids to school. They have no excuse,” said Mr Kanyiri.
Locals who were interviewed in Lamu supported the idea saying it will ensure parents and children develop a positive mentality towards education in the region.
“I support the age assessment test for our boat and boda boda operators. This will contribute to improved transport safety. The issue of parents to be punished for failing to take their children to school is also good since it will help the parents and children to take education seriously,” said Mr Mohamed Omar.