‘School vehicles checked’

2015-01-30 00:00

THE owners of vehicles that transport pupils to and from school are subsidised by the government, and the vehicles should receive annual checks for ­roadworthiness, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday.

At a media briefing at the site of Wednesday’s horror accident, The ­Witness questioned Mchunu and ­Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni on the subsidisation of private transport, like the bakkie involved in the accident, by the government and on measures to monitor the state of these vehicles.

Mchunu said that public transport was subsidised by the Education ­Department and that annual checks were carried out on these vehicles.

“For the past five years we have been warning people about accidents and it’s unfortunate that we continue seeing ­accidents such as this,” he said.

The officials gathered in Imbali at the site of the accident, which claimed the lives of seven children and left dozens injured when the bakkie transporting them left the road and slammed into a house.

According to Nkonyeni, the government would take the necessary steps to support the bereaved families and to ­supply public transport to the school.

She said that over 1 400 pupils are ­enrolled at the school.

Mchunu added that scholar transport needed to be implemented, but said his department was guided by budgets and the needs of the school.

“The school first needs to be assessed and an investigation would be done ­before the department will grant public transport to a school,” he said.

Nkonyeni said that their budget for public transport for schools is limited.

“We’ve spoken to the minister about the transport issue here, many parents recommend Fezokuhle because of the school’s high performance,” she said.

“Research will be conducted to find out exactly how many pupils stay in Imbali and travel to Fezokuhle Primary.”

Mchunu said his department would assist with the costs of the funerals, as it was “the policy of the government”, as would the Road Accident Fund.

“Our job will be to investigate what caused the accident and also to find out whether the bakkie was in a roadworthy condition or if the fault was with the ­driver. The matter will be discussed with the municipality and a resolution will be implemented thereafter,” he said.

Fezokuhle school governing body spokesperson Botsotso Mahlaba said the Department of Education had offered to provide counselling for their pupils and teachers “to deal with the trauma of the accident”.

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