Truck problems for school

2015-06-15 11:21
Noelene Marian from Berg Street Primary School stands just outside the school gate. Trucks often block the gate leaving teachers and visitors at the school trapped inside.

Noelene Marian from Berg Street Primary School stands just outside the school gate. Trucks often block the gate leaving teachers and visitors at the school trapped inside. (Jonathan Burton)

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“ABSOLUTE lawlessness and utter chaos.”

This is how Berg Street Primary School principal Reshma Amritlall describes the daily problems the school faces from truck drivers congesting the surrounding area.

She said the safety of pupils and staff at the school is “always at risk” and attempts to confront the problem “have fallen on deaf ears”.

“We don’t know what to do anymore. We have reported the matter numerous times to the Department of Education, the municipality, the police and the community policing forum. We have tried to speak to some truck drivers who surround the school, but have only been greeted with aggressive responses,” said Amritlall.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the parking management system operating in parts of the city will be implemented in the vicinity of the Berg Street Primary School area in the weeks to come. This, she said, will assist in the traffic congestion around the school.

“Due to the nature of the businesses in the area, heavy motor vehicles are predominantly used for delivery of goods. The municipality has embarked on a multi-disciplinary approach that includes the divisions of town planning, road department, environmental health, licensing, waste management, traffic and security to address the challenges in the area,” said Madonda.

The congestion is only one of the problems as Amritlall says the school is also surrounded by filth.

“We cannot cope with the filth around our school. The gutters overflow with sludge and there’s bin bags of rotting meat dumped outside. Nearby businesses who burn plastic and melt metal cause a disgusting stench to filter through our school. Our school looks like it is in a slum,” she said.

Last year, two men entered the school premises via the Boom Street entrance and robbed a teacher, while she was in class, of her cellphone and money. Amritlall said loiterers around the school cause disruptions when approached by the security guards.

“We are so fed up with the commotion outside our school.

“We have employed another security guard, but the motorists and people who loiter outside have no respect for our security guards. When the guards ask them to move away or park somewhere else, they swear at them or totally ignore them. We are in constant fear here,” she said.

School governing body deputy chairperson Zona Fords said the school has an enrolment of 1 200 pupils and it is in “fear” each day when the pupils enter and leave school.

“With the trucks and taxis doing their own thing on the roads outside school, it definitely causes agitation as we never know when tragedy might strike. It also is a big problem in cases of emergency. Teachers are sometimes stuck inside the school grounds for half-an-hour waiting for trucks to complete offloading and move out of the way.

“We have all just become afraid to say or do anything so we just wait,” said Fords.

She said although their pupils attend a government school, they should receive the “same courtesy” as those in private schools.

In February this year, five-year-old Athandiwe Dumakude went missing from outside Berg Street Primary School.

Her body was found later that day dumped in a secluded forest in Woodlands. She was found with a stab wound in her neck and police suspect she was raped. No arrests have been made, but it is believed she was kidnapped outside school by a known person

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  trucks

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