17,000 pupils miss school as protesters demand tarred road

Schools and clinics have been affected by a week-long strike over a demand for a tarred road by villagers of Ngqeleni. The road leads to Hluleka Nature Reserve. Pondomiseni Junior Secondary school has been closed since Tuesday.
Schools and clinics have been affected by a week-long strike over a demand for a tarred road by villagers of Ngqeleni. The road leads to Hluleka Nature Reserve. Pondomiseni Junior Secondary school has been closed since Tuesday.
Image: Ziyanda Zweni

Almost 17,000 pupils from 50 villages in Ngqeleni, made to sit at home for two weeks already, will not return to school until later this month.

And that is only if the department of transport introduces a construction company to villagers, who have been protesting for a fortnight demanding that the road from the R61 in Ntlaza to Hluleka Nature Reserve be tarred.

Bhisho has promised that the stalled multimillion-rand project will start “in the next two weeks”, but protesters vow they will keep the roads closed until it gets off the ground.

While the stalemate over the road continues, the education department says it plans to group pupils at schools, with teachers visiting and helping matrics with revision ahead of the final exams, which start on October 28.

Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said 35 schools had been closed since September 30.

“We have plans. These pupils have been grouped in their areas and we will send the teachers to them. Secondly, while they were at school, we finished the syllabus in August, so we are busy with revision now.”

He said they were looking for alternative teaching venues. “We are working with churches and chiefs to ensure that there are centres available [for revision]. We are saddened by this and we want solutions. We have a responsibility to make sure children go back to school.”

St Barnabas Hospital to Hluleka development forum chair Thembinkosi Gwaji said they were “done” talking.

Transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose said the construction company could not be on site before November because of “delays due to processes that had to be followed”.

bhongoj@tisoblackstar.co.za

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