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Flood fears: Be responsible, NTSA tells parents as schools’ re-open

As rains continue to wreak havoc across the country, some schools have informed parents that they may remain closed next week while others reopen for the second term.

With transport disrupted, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has urged parents and all motorists to ensure the safety of learners when schools reopen.

Speaking to Nairobi News, NTSA Director General George Njau urged parents and guardians to play their part.

“If all parents and guardians take a few minutes to have a brief road safety talk with drivers, just to remind them that they are entrusted with a huge responsibility, we will see a huge difference,” he said.

He said drivers should listen for the sake of the many innocent children they will be taking to school.

“Remember, until the children get to school, their safety is in the hands of the drivers and that should not be taken lightly. We urge all parents and guardians to heed our plea and support this call to ensure a safe journey back to school for all children,” Mr Njao said.

“The responsibility lies with school principals to ensure that they have complied with the regulations, and with PTAs and school boards to ensure continued compliance, including refresher training for drivers. We all need to play our role in society in the leadership positions we have been given”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has given the green light to plans to reopen schools on Monday, despite concerns over heavy rain and widespread flooding across the country. The move comes as the government prepares to receive assessment reports on the readiness of schools for the coming term.

The ministry has instructed all regional directors of education to collect data from basic education institutions to assess their readiness for the coming term.

Education PS Belio Kipsang on Thursday maintained that school reopening dates would remain as scheduled.

“I know that we have been blessed with a lot of rain this year and I know that the President has directed a multi-agency team to deal with the challenges that have come with the rains,” Dr Kipsang said.

Schools are expected to reopen for the second term from April 29.

“We are ready and we are looking forward to our children going to school. As a ministry, we will be actively involved in multitasking efforts alongside our colleagues to ensure the safety of our children as they resume their studies,” Dr Kipsang said.

The PS said a directive by President William Ruto to a multi-agency team to address the challenges posed by the rains is being implemented. This is part of the comprehensive preparations aimed at facilitating the return of learners to schools across the country, Dr Kipsang said.

The announcement comes amid concerns about the impact of the heavy rains on infrastructure and transport networks, raising questions about the feasibility of resuming school activities.

He said the ministry would make the right decision for the children.

“I can assure all of us that as already directed by the President, we are all prepared and looking forward to our children going to school next week,” the PS said.

Dr Kipsang was speaking as a circular was issued by the Director General of the Ministry of Education, Dr Elyas Abdi, instructing regional directors to collect data on the status of schools following the heavy rains.

“There are reports of heavy rains and flooding in several parts of the country. There is therefore a need to assess the impact of the prolonged rains on the country’s basic education institutions,” said Dr Abdi.

The NTSA also urged parents to use safe means of transport to take their children to and from school, adding that only compliant and roadworthy vehicles should be used.

Heavy rains across Kenya in recent days have so far killed at least 70 people, displaced at least 14,000 and forced hundreds from their homes, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society.

It added that more than 200 people had been rescued since the rains began in March, with 27,716 hectares under water, 4,824 livestock lost and 23 counties affected.

The Kenya Meteorological Department said the rains would continue in different parts of the country for the next seven days.

“Flooding is expected in low-lying areas, flood plains and urban areas with poor drainage,” said David Gikungu, director of the meteorological department.

Landslides could also occur on steep slopes where the soil is saturated, he added.

Mr Gikungu has advised road users to be extra cautious as visibility is likely to be reduced during heavy rainfall.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department has warned that the heavy rains will continue into the weekend and urged district governments to reconsider their budget adjustments and prioritise the disaster.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said on Thursday that the National Youth Service would be supported to resettle displaced families, clear drains and waterways and deal with overflowing embankments. The National Disaster Response Centre will be opened 24 hours a day to monitor the situation in the country.

The DP also cautioned Kenyans to be responsible and not to tamper with nature as the rains intensify across the country. According to the DP, the weatherman has warned that the country is expecting heavy rains on Friday and Saturday, which will begin to subside on Sunday and Monday.

“We appeal to Kenyans to be responsible for their own lives and safety. In some cases, we have seen people being adventurous and daring to cross swollen rivers. We urge Kenyans to exercise caution and take responsibility for their own lives. They must know that they are carrying the hopes of their families,” he said.

Nairobi County has 200 public schools and more than 800 private schools.

All other schools will reopen as previously planned, subject to case-by-case assessment.

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