Boat operators in Lamu County will soon have to undergo an age assessment test in a move aimed at weeding out underage children who are said to be actively involved in the water transport business in the region.
Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said his office will not sit back and watch as children who should be in school loiter in the streets of Lamu while others work as coxswains.
Lamu County has over 5,000 boat operators working in the various islands in the archipelago.
Speaking to the Nation on Tuesday, Mr Kanyiri said he has already instructed deputy county commissioners, chiefs and headmen across Lamu County to ensure only adults are involved in the boat business.
Mr Kanyiri said the age assessment test will also be extended to fishermen and bodaboda riders working across Lamu County so that those who abandon school to engage in such activities are taken back to class.
He warned lazy chiefs of dire consequences if they fail to ensure all children in their various areas of jurisdiction are sent to school.
“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 dropouts are involved in boat 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 bodaboda operators and even fishermen,” said Mr Kanyiri.
He insisted that chiefs have a personal duty to ensure that children in the areas actually go to school.
He said education is the only solution to the high levels of poverty, crime and drug use in the region.
Mr Kanyiri urged parents to cooperate with chiefs, police officers and his office to ensure Lamu develops to the level of other counties.
“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 bodaboda business, take 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 children to school. They have no excuse,” said Mr Kanyiri.
Locals who were interviewed in Lamu on Tuesday supported themove, saying it will ensure parents and children develop a positive attitude towards education in the region.
“I support the age assessment test for our boat and bodaboda operators. This will contribute to improved transport safety,” said Mr Mohamed Omar.