NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 4 – Public transport operators were prioritising learners Monday as many streamed back to school on day one of reopening following a 10-month break occasioned by COVID-19.
Kenya faced a major transport crisis reported in major towns countrywide as students traveled back to school.
A spot check by Capital FM News shows that both public and private schools had resumed even though there were various challenges encountered, including transport crisis as learners traveled back to school to and from upcountry.
“We have been waiting for a vehicle to Nairobi since morning and we can’t get any,” said Vitallis Oduor, a parent who was with his two children at the Eldoret main bus stage, “we are appealing to the government to allow public service vehicles to carry their normal capacity because this is the main case of this challenge.”
“We are happy to be back in school, that was a long break,” a pupil at Kasarani Primary School in Nairobi said.
Vehicles were carrying half the normal capacity to comply with the social distancing regulation issued by the Ministry of Health, in what was blamed for the transport crisis.
“Our motto has always been that we prioritize learners especially during this time when they are reporting back to school,” said Dennish Ouma, a Station Manager for Easy Coach in Nairobi.
Ouma said that the company was strictly adhering to the COVID-19 regulations of 60 percent capacity, and was not planning to hike fares.
“We want to assure parents that we will not compromise the safety of their children and we will ensure that they arrive safely in their respective schools,” he said.
Brian Kadudu, a manager at the Transline Company said they were also prioritising leaners.
“We expect that the number of learners travelling will build up as the week progresses but, in the meantime, we are giving them priority and ensuring that they comply with the COVID-19 protocols,” he said.
Brian Njuguna, a driver at North Rift Shuttles said “The number of learners traveling has been low compared to other times.”
Alex Mutunga, a driver who operators the Machakos route blamed the slow pace of learners returning to school to the harsh economic situation that was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of the parents are ill-prepared and that is why the number of the children reporting back to school is low but the situation is most likely to change in the coming days,” he said.
Schools re-opened in Kenya Monday following a 10-month break over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools were closed in March 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country, with partial re-opening done in October for Form 4, Class 8 candidates and Grade 4 pupils.
An academic calendar issued by the Ministry of Education shows that Pre-Primary 1 and 2; Grade 1, 2 and 3; Class 5, 6 and 7; and Form 1, 2 and 3 learners will start their Term 2 on 4th January, 2021 and end on 19th March 2021 together with the Grade 4 and candidate classes (Class 8 and Form 4) who opened last year in October.
All other learners except Class 8 and Form 4 candidates due for Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) assessments will proceed for a 7-week holiday to allow for KCPE and KCSE examinations administration and marking.
The government announced Sunday it had set up a command centre to oversee the re-opening of schools, in an elaborate plan involving all stakeholders.