Parents in Chatty in Port Elizabeth have resorted to presenting a memorandum to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after repeated applications for scholar transport from the Eastern Cape Department of Transport have fallen on deaf ears. The scholars attend Sapphire Road Primary, Cederburg Primary and Booysen Park Primary. Learners often have to walk more than six kilometres to school, seriously affecting their attendance and ultimately increasing the dropout rate.
I welcome the memorandum that was sent to the NMBM by the parents for assistance in this matter.
The memorandum outlines the dangerous encounters learners face on their walk to school:
- Crossing the busy Bloemendal Arterial Road;
- In 2015, the lifeless body of a schoolgirl, who went missing on her way home, found dead alongside Standford Road;
- In 2014, two scholars, while on their way to school, were involved in a hit-and-run and died instantly in Uitenhage Road;
- Schoolgirl raped while walking alongside bush to school
- Parents walking children to school also get robbed
The disregard shown by the Department of Transport has forced many parents to use their limited funds on alternative transport which often proves to be unroadworthy. Private transport operators are not subject to the same scrutiny as scholar transporters contracted by the department and are often found not to be in possession of valid driver’s licenses.
The spate of scholar-related accidents shows that overloading and a general disregard for traffic laws are prevalent among transport operators. Sending your children to school should not be a death sentence.
The parents have threatened further action if their demands are not met. They had given the department until yesterday (subs: 12 February 2018) to respond positively to their demands, to no avail.
I have submitted legislature questions to the MEC for Transport, Weziwe Tikana, enquiring about the facts why the pupils are still without scholar transport even though they have applied.
The lack of scholar transport has lasting effects on the future of our learners. The DA will continue to fight this battle until the burden of travelling long distances to school is resolved. We believe that in order to access to opportunities scholars need to be able to access their right to education. The DA is firmly committed to ensuring learners across the country receive scholar transport so that they are able to focus solely on learning and developing themselves for a better future.
Marshall von Buchenroder
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