KZN learners are missing school because they can’t cross the river (road!) during heavy rains. Residents say they have waited years for a bridge. By Nokulunga Majola.
“We cannot have children not go to school because they cannot cross the river when it is full,” says Sakhile Masikane, of Emakhabeleni, outside Kranskop in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
When it rains, people often struggle to cross the Dimane River, which connects to the Tugela.
“I think the situation is getting worse each year,” says Masikane. “Before there were places where people could cross as there were big rocks, but now, if the river is full, you stay where you are.”
Masikane, who is a school governing body member of the primary school, says children who attend Emakhabeleni Primary and Gcotoi High schools often miss classes and even exams.
Taxi driver Langa Ngubane said crossing the river is the only way to get learners to school. “After the rain, I always go to the river to check if we will be able to cross, and if we can’t, I let the children know to stay home. But sometimes they insist on going to check for themselves and they get disappointed when they cannot cross by foot or vehicle.”
People in the Dimane and Mhlabathini areas have to cross the river to access the local clinic. The river also cuts them off from Kranskop town.
Ngubane said a bridge is urgently needed. “We have been waiting for years because at some point there were big pipes that were delivered that we thought were going to be used for the bridge, but they have been lying here for years now,” he said.
On a previous visit GroundUp saw three large stormwater pipes.
In March, a video circulated showing adults up to their knees in water wading and carrying children on their backs and in their arms across the river.
“I can confirm that the bridge will definitely be constructed and I am doing all I can to ensure that it happens,” said Umvoti Municipality Ward 6 Councillor Zenzele Dlomo (IFP).
He said the bridge was to be built in this financial year but the project has been postponed to the 22/23 financial year.
The provincial department for transport and community safety and liaison has not responded to calls and repeated attempts to get comment by email and WhatsApp for three weeks.
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