As part of her constituency work, newly appointed MEC for human settlements and ANC member of the provincial legislature, Nonceba Kontsiwe, addressed the challenges around the provision of scholar transport in rural areas when she handed over 30 bicycles in Ntabethemba on Tuesday.
Kontsiwe said this interim intervention was to improve mobility and provide access to education for scholars who were currently walking long distances to school.
“They live in far-flung areas, have to wake up in the wee hours and walk many kilometres to school. By the time they get there they are exhausted and it is difficult for them to concentrate. We worked jointly with school officials and ward councillors who identified deserving pupils and delivered the bicycles in the Hofmeyr, Tarkastad and Ntabethemba areas. Young people from surrounding farms and villages were accommodated.”
Kontsiwe said these pupils were not scholar transport beneficiaries because, among other reasons, the distance travelled was less than the required criteria set by the education department. She said the education department had a long-term programme that would accommodate the challenge. “I believe these bicycles will help because I saw how appreciative the parents, teachers and, residents and scholars were. Their gratitude encouraged me to try and do more if possible.”
She said the area was confronted with social ills relating to crime and substance abuse, especially among young people. Her visit comes after a previous tournament on March 16 last year, with the intention of uniting the youth to combat crime through sports activities. Kontsiwe believed sport had the ability to instil discipline and respect and handed over 12 soccer and 12 netball outfits on the day.
Ntabethemba Football Association secretary Lintle Nowatha said Ntabethemba had 28 existing teams with 19 functional. He said there was a lack of proper sportswear and netball teams suffered most. He said the association was pleased to have received the items as sport contributed to developing strong bonds, especially where young people were prone to village fights in Ntabethemba.
Inyathi High School principal Samkelo Mdlokolo who shared the same sentiments said the intervention by the MEC and the handing over of bicycles put them in a better position to collectively cope with challenges they faced.