Mahlabathini - Getting to school has been made much safer for the teachers and learners of Thombothi High School with the opening of the Thombothi Black Umfolozi Bridge.
The bridge, opened on Tuesday by Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe, will enable the school children to cross over the river between Xasane and Esizinda communities in the Mahlabathini district without having to swim across.
Speaking at the event, Minister Radebe said teachers and learners at Thombothi and Bhamu will no longer arrive late at school and miss the lessons because they had to struggling to cross the river.
"This bridge is one of the government's initiatives to develop communities, the project has also provided job opportunities and skills training for local people, who will then get more other jobs," he said.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Bheki Cele said the R800 000 road construction was part of the R1.5 billion investment by the department to deal with the infrastructure challenges in Zululand.
Zululand is one of the more rural areas in the province where people still travel kilometres on foot to the nearest clinic, hospital, school and social grant or pension payout point.
Other infrastructure projects the department has invested in include D1820, D487, P700, P432, P235/ P49/ P52, P234, Umbhudula Road Qwasha River Road Bridge, Mpembeni, Sikhwebezi Pedestrian Bridge, Thombothi River Bridge, Obivane River Bridge, Wela River Bridge, KwaBhanya Vehicle Bridge, Intethe River Bridge and Nsonyane Bridge.
He said bridges both for vehicles and pedestrians were central to the provision of access and the improvement of the quality of lives of people.
The MEC noted that the figure for pedestrian bridges to be built in the province had increased dramatically to more than 400. However, the department had limited funds and was therefore unable to deal with the backlogs as quickly as efficiently.