School truck danger

2010-05-07 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG school fears for its pupils’ safety as reconstruction at the Chota Motala Road interchange, in close proximity to the school, is about to kick off.

With busy rush-hour traffic each week day outside Forest Hill Primary School, principal Basil Manuel fears that the lives of his pupils will be in even greater danger when construction trucks use the already congested Woodlands and Chota Motala roads.

“The contractors have started building stock yards to store their equipment next to the school. There is enough traffic already and now that big trucks move around in preparation for the construction, there’s been pandemonium,” said Manuel.

He said traffic outside the school becomes chaotic, especially around the time when school buses come to pick up pupils. “What will happen when the actual construction begins?” he asked.

According to an SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) advert, construction will be carried out for a period of 27 months, ending some time in June 2012.

“I think in the next two years our lives will be difficult. A few hundred kids use the roads,” Manuel said.

The road upgrading project intends to broaden the Chota Motala Road to less than a metre from the school fence, a move which will shut down the current roadway used by some of the pupils.

Deputy principal Alphonso Jasson said the school expects an alternative route to be provided for pupils who walk along the marked road after school.

When The Witness approached Sanral regional manager Gunyaziwe Makaula about the school’s fears, he said: “We don’t know if this case falls under our jurisdiction or the municipality’s. We’ll also have to establish whether the roadway the kids use is legal. Then we will decide if we could send people on the ground.”

Municipal acting public safety manager Kwenza Khumalo said the municipality needs a green light from Sanral for it to intervene. “We are going to engage Sanral about this. They will need to tell us what they expect us to do in terms of traffic control in that area,” said Khumalo.

Jasson told The Witness that the school lost a pupil on the road two years ago after he was hit by a minibus taxi.

During school hours, Manuel said, teachers are able to ensure that the children are safe, but it becomes difficult to control the them after school. “They are children, they run around without looking if there’s potential danger,” he said.

“We are happy about the road, but what worries us the most is the impact the construction will have on the school.”

A school bus driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said the timing of robots at the corner of Chota Motala and Woodlands roads is the source of the traffic congestion.

“We’ve been telling this to the traffic department, but nothing has been done about it,” the driver said.

A source close to the matter said a meeting between the school, Sanral and the traffic department will be convened soon to find solutions.

 

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