Mpumalanga learners get bicycles

Monday, March 4, 2024

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has handed over 455 bicycles to pupils in Mpumalanga to use for travelling to school.

Learners that benefitted from the national Shova Kalula or Ride Easy Bicycle Programme include those in Sindawonye and Kwakwari Primary, as well as Mgudlwa, Mkhephuli, Mbedlwana, Sozilani and Hlomanani Secondary Schools in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality.

“We hope that these means will help in them to get to and from school quicker, and that it will inspire them to pursue their educational dreams,” Chikunga said on Monday.

The national Shova Kalula or Ride Easy Bicycle Programme was initiated as a pilot project in 2001 with the purpose of promoting and maximising the use of bicycles as a low-cost mobility solution to poor communities, particularly in the rural areas.

“The Shova Kalula Programme is part of the broader learner transport programme, focusing on learners who walk less than 5 kilometre (km) and walk more than 3 km to schools. Other learners on the learner transport programme are being ferried through buses and taxis through contracts that are managed by the provinces,” the Minister said.

In addition, all provinces are implementing the National Learner Transport Policy though the National Learner Transport Programme.

“There are 900 946 learners in 5 635 schools that required learner transport to access their schools in 2023/2024 financial year. These learners have been identified by the provincial Departments of Education, which are responsible for the selection of learners to benefit from the subsidised learner transport service, in line with the National Learner Transport Policy and provincial policies,” Chikunga said.

The National Learner Transport policy recognies the deep challenges of learners who walk long distances to school, which has an adverse impact on their school attendance and performance.

“In order to deal with these mobility challenges, government has been implementing the National Learner Transport Policy to provide learners who live more than 5km [from school] with transport to school,” the Minister said.

Moloto Road

While in Mpumalanga, the Minister also conducted a site inspection of the bridge under construction along the R573 Moloto Road in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality.

“Work on the project is progressing steadily across all the three provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) team is working tirelessly to make the road safer for road users. In Mpumalanga, Work Package 2 is currently ongoing, and it is 75% complete.

“The anticipated completion date of construction for this phase is June 2024. In Limpopo, Work Package A2 is currently underway, and it is 95% complete. The anticipated completion date of construction is February 2024. In Gauteng, SANRAL is on the verge of appointing a contractor to start with works on this section of the project in 2024,” the Minister said.

SANRAL has invested R4.5billion in this project over five years.

“About 12 500 jobs are expected to be created throughout the project duration. In line with SANRAL’s Transformation Policy, the inclusion of youth- and women-owned businesses will be prioritised.

“Furthermore, the roads agency has launched a programme to empower Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), headed by people with disabilities, to form part of the construction of Moloto Road.

“Nearly R130 million has also been earmarked to train prospective contractors from designated groups, to get them to the point where they are able to submit compliant, competitive and profitable tenders for such projects,” Chikunga said.

SANRAL has introduced several additional safety interventions on the R573 to minimise crashes, paying particular attention to pedestrian safety.

“So far, we have worked on the Moloto Road in Mpumalanga and Limpopo and we hope to begin work in Gauteng this year. The spend to date is R559 million on upgrading of national road R573, Section 2, Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, Mpumalanga; and R362.8 million on upgrading of national road R573, Section 3, from Slovo to Siyabuswa, Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality,” the Minister said. –