The IFP, as the Official Opposition in the KZN Legislature, says the lack of bridges in Nkandla is a disaster waiting to happen, as learners from three schools are crossing the dangerous uThukela river daily.
Learners in Ward 13 in Nkandla from Mphalwini Primary School, Amathole Amnyama High School, and Sizwesonke High School are alleged to be paying an amount of R100 per month to a local man who owns a boat to ferry them to and from school. Those who do not have the money to pay, are forced to cross on foot. With flood season fast approaching this will become more and more dangerous, and even the boat crossings will become perilous, as the boat could capsize.
These learners urgently need a bridge so that they can cross the river safely, and without having to pay money that could be better used for necessities.
It is shocking that in a democratic country like South Africa, we still have people who have been left by the ANC government to fend for themselves.
It has been more than five years since the irregular procurement of ferry boats worth more than R2 million, which were bought by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education in 2017, allegedly to provide transport for pupils who cross rivers to and from school. These boats were procured to provide much-needed relief to the pupils who stare death in the face daily crossing crocodile-infested rivers to and from school.
In a response to parliamentary questions submitted by the IFP last year, the former KZN MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, revealed that the boats are being stored at the Sharks Board in Durban, unused.
It appears that no feasibility study was conducted during the procurement process, or before the purchase of these boats. Therefore, the budget required for staff, as well as the maintenance of boats, was not considered. The Department then concluded – after the purchase – that the boats could not be utilised by the Department for the transportation of learners.
Further, the former Head of Department allegedly instituted an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to the procurement of these boats. However, unsurprisingly, to date no one has been held accountable and the report for the investigation was never made public. The question is: who is being protected? We call upon the KZN MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer, to release the report to the public.
As the IFP we are demanding answers from the KZN Provincial Government, in particular, the KZN MECs for Education and Transport, Mbali Frazer and Sipho Hlomuka, to tell the public when a bridge will be built in Ward 13 in Nkandla.
The ANC government must step up and take action before disaster happens – or is the government waiting for a teacher or a learner to be eaten by a crocodile before they build a bridge?
Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson for Education
071 884 3844 / 079 114 3015