- Stranded students forced to be transported in speed boat with no life jacket
Parents of students residing in Aroiama but attends the Kwakwani Secondary School, are again calling for a better transportation system to be instituted for their children as they continue to travel unsafely from time to time on private boats when the assigned school boat captain allegedly leaves them stranded. The latest incident occurred last Friday when over 15 students were left in Kwakwani by the contracted boat driver. Just before dark, the students were then packed in a small speed boat with no life jacket and safety precautions in place, to take them back to Aroaima.
On a usual school day, students are transported to and from school by a school bus or by boat. They interchange the services weekly. One week some use the bus while others use the boat and the following week they switch their mode of transportation. Students related that it was a rainy day and they were occupied with school activities later than expected.
A student managed to contact a boat driver from the reservation village who came to transport them home. The driver who came to their rescue, related that this is a regular occurrence. When questioned, no specific reason can be given by the contracted driver as to why the children are left behind.
A student called a Forensic Interviewer attached to Blossom Inc. Child Advocacy Center Kwakwani, Selina DaSilva and reported the issue. DaSilva then immediately contacted the School’s Welfare Officer, Shekira Goring who is attached to the Sub Region 2 area.
Parents related that for the school bus to be provided recently, they had to protest but the one assigned still cannot fit all the students, so some are still forced to use the boat. Parents also related that the children are required to pay $1500.00 monthly to travel. However, this was debunked by the Regional Education Office as fuel and gasoline are provided for by the Department.
Regional Education Officer, Nicola Mathews said that she was contacted by Goring about the issue. She said, “We have never had complains before about this, so we will look into it.” She also said, “We provide fuel for both the bus and boat so no one pays for the service unless it is a private person.”
Vice Chairman, Mark Goring said, “I was made aware late Friday afternoon, but I will raise the concern with the Department of Education to get a better understanding of the situation and for a resolve”