Learner transport still a hot topic

Pupils and a parent waiting for public transport

THE death of four schoolchildren in a collision between a taxi and a bus in Ntuzuma on Wednesday, once again emphasised the importance of safe public transport for learners.

In the light of the opening of schools yesterday, the KZN Department of Transport appealed to parents and guardians to ensure that they use roadworthy and legally operating transportation modes for their children.

The department issued a stern warning to those found to be transporting learners – and other commuters – in unroadworthy vehicles, emphasising that those found guilty would be arrested and their vehicles impounded by traffic police.

Currently the issue of scholar transport is at a standstill, with the MEC for Education, Mthandeni

Dlungwane, in talks with the MEC for Transport, Thomas Mxolisi Kaunda, to take over the function of scholar transport in the province.

Speaking to the ZO, Chairperson for the KZN Portfolio Committee on Education, Linda Hlongwa Madlala, said the talks between the two departments is a big step.

‘If the Department of Education monitors the policy around scholar transport, it will move in the right direction.

Regulate

‘As the Portfolio Committee we need to regulate scholar transport as opposed to outsourcing it.

‘What would be ideal is if schools were given funds to procure buses for themselves so that at least they know the transport vehicles are roadworthy and the driver is fit to drive.

‘These are ideas that we are going to suggest for the province because Gauteng is already doing this.’

Madlala cited this as being one of the possible solutions going forward in respect of addressing the scholar transport issue in the province.

According to Stats SA, KZN has the highest proportion of children living far from the primary schools they attend (26%).

Reports indicate that approximately 200 000 scholars walk to and from school on a daily basis.

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