For students in Handaraku Primary school, despite the free education push by the government, accessing their center of learning has been a puzzling gamble.
To access their school located in Garsen West of Tana Delta sub-county, the more than 300 pupils have to cross the dreaded, crocodile-infested River Tana, on a weak footbridge made by the village headman, Mohammed Abdi.
It is a case that they have had to endure for the past four years, even as their plea to the county government for a safe bridge, falls on deaf ears.
According to the parents, they have had to save children from drowning a number of times, as the footbridge gets wet and slippery, whenever the river floods it.
"When it floods, crossing the bridge becomes guesswork since it cannot be seen without the help of an expert in crossing," said Mohammed Wario.
Pupils are required to pay Sh10 to be helped to cross the bridge and at times are forced to stay at home when the river gets ‘wild’ and unpredictable.
Sometimes the crocodiles swim this far to hunt, during which the children are asked to stay home until we are sure it is safe to pass," said Hussein Barisa, an elder.
At least three pupils are rescued from drowning every week after falling into the water.
Mr Abdi, the Handaraku village headman is tasked with inspecting the bridge he made for the pupils to ensure it does not get too weak to sustain the huge numbers crossing the bridge every day.
"I have my children attending the same school and so do my grandchildren, I owe them the privilege to learn and that's why I did this," he said.
Area MCA Musa Wario notes that efforts to persuade the county administration to construct a reasonable footbridge have been futile.
"The last time I lobbied, it was factored in the budget, then suddenly it was dropped. Since then, I have not been able to get conclusive answers as to what happened, and why the bridges construction has never been prioritized, nor monies allocated to it, " he said.
Mr Wario claimed that the county administration does not have the desire to save the situation, despite it being the residents' main desire.
Reached for comment, Tana roads executive Stephen Wachira said the administration is much aware of the plight of pupils in Handaraku and will factor in the budget money for the construction of the bridge in the 2021/2022 budget.
He appealed to residents to be patient as the administration seeks a temporary solution for the pupils.