By Kamundia Muriithi.
Students in 12 schools in Mbeere South sub-county, Embu County have been suffering since they opened for third term from dust attributed to sand harvesting.
The schools are along the 48km Kiritiri-Kiambere-Karuura road that sand merchants use to ferry sand mined from quarries in Mbeere to various towns in the country.
Owing to the dry weather, the heavy sand trucks blow clouds of dust that envelope the schools and homes along the road making lives for many misery.
The situation is dire at Igumori Secondary school where students use exercise and text books or curtains they bring from home to cover the windows and shield themselves from the cloud of dust blown their way.
Students complained that the exposure to the dust had caused eye and respiratory problems. Joshua Mwendwa, a Form Four student, said the situation forces them to clean their classrooms twice or thrice in a day.
“We have to clean classrooms frequently since the dust makes it difficult to concentrate in class. Many students have developed health problems due to the dusty environment,” he said.
The situation is the same at Karura Primary School where the head teacher revealed that if 10 lorries pass near the school during one lesson, it becomes hard for the teacher to teach.
Kiminda, Mutuovare, Kamaunju, Igumori, Ithavare and Kavingori primary schools are also affected.
Mbeere South security team has visited scores of affected schools where administrators came face to face with the choking dust the learners grapple with daily.
At the conclusion of the tour, they banned sand harvesting indefinitely until the stakeholders involved come up with measures to mitigate environmental degradation.
Area Deputy County Commissioner Beverly Opworah and OCPD Ahmed Muhamed announced police would patrol the area 24 hours to stop the sand harvesters and sand trucks.
Area MP Geoffrey King’ang’i supported the ban saying the noisy sand trucks drowned the voices of teachers disrupting learning.
“They blow up a lot of dust which lands in classrooms and homes posing health hazards to the locals. The lorries have also created gaping potholes on roads making travelling hard,” he said.