Lamu, KENYA: Just months after the Basuba schools in Lamu East which had been closed down for over two years owing to insecurity were officially opened and new teachers posted early this year,the schools are facing a similar fate after the new teachers threatened to abandon ship citing insecurity and threats on their lives.
The teachers said they have received direct threats on their lives by Alshabaab militants and their sympathizers who are keen on blocking government support to the area.
In January this year, a total of 10 new teachers were posted to serve in five schools in Basuba ward after the security apparatus assured of security for the teachers and learners in the area.
However, at the moment the teachers are now demanding to be moved out of the schools in the terror prone zone, with many of them having already written to the Teachers Service Commission-TSC saying they no longer feel safe working in the area.
The affected schools are Basuba,Mangai,Milimani,Mararani and Kiangwe primary schools,all in Lamu East.
The teachers in Pate island in Lamu and neighboring Tana River count, said they are also uncomfortable with the constant altercations between the security officers and suspected militants and that the constant blasts and sounds of gunshots makes them sick.
According to records from the TSC Lamu office,a total of 14 teachers of the Basuba schools were relocated to safer zones in Lamu between 2014 and 2016 after the insecurity threat became apparent.
Another 6 teachers were interdicted during the same period after they deserted duty citing insecurity and threats from the Alshabaab.
The newly posted teachers,many of whom no longer report at their duty posts now say they fear for their lives and want to be transferred elsewhere saying they have never known peace since they reported in the region.
One of the teachers Mohamed Loo, said they had already raised the issue with TSC in Lamu.
Loo said apart from evident insecurity issues in the area, there were so many challenges and that as such they cant work effectively.
“Not a day goes by without us being threatened.We cant sleep at night due to the constant sounds of gunshots and bombardments.We don’t feel safe and we want out immediately.We live I constant fear and frankly most of us are even scared to report for duty,” said Loo.
Yet another teacher Ali Famau said transportation was a nightmare that was costing them more than they bargained for.
“There are no vehicles whatsoever in this place.Only a few motorcycles which cost an arm and a leg.To move from Basuba tio Kiangwe for instance,you need not less than sh.6000 to and from.cWater is a problem.Top all that with the insecurity and the threats we receive daily.Its not safe,” said Famau.
Speaking in Lamu on Tuesday,Lamu County TSC Director Charles Nyauma acknowledged having received complaints and transfer requests from the teachers in Basuba and that they were looking into the reports before any action can be taken.
“Its true some of the teachers in Basuba have come to my office seeking to be transferred.They say they don’t feel safe in the area.We are looking into it and we shall take suitable action soon,”said Nyauma.
Lamu county commissioner Joseph Kanyiri however rubbished the insecurity claims, saying they were mere propaganda since the area is safe and peaceful.
Kanyiri asked the teachers to stop worrying since they were under 24/7 protective surveillance from security officers operating in the area.
“Basuba is safe and secure and so is the entire county and as such there is nothing to worry about.Those saying they don’t feel safe have other reasons for doing so.we have ensured the area in properly secured,”said Kanyiri.
On September 15,2015,the national government officially launched the Linda Boni security operation with the sole aim of flushing out Alshabaab militants said to be hiding deep within the Boni forest.
The operation is still underway.