It will take 27 years at this rate to build all the pedestrian bridges we need – DA
The party says the bridges are urgently needed in order to allow children to access schools.
The low water bridge overflowed. Picture: Facebook
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has said it would take the provincial department of transport (DoT) 27 years to address the pedestrian bridge backlog in the province.
The DA said this was revealed during a meeting of the KwaZulu-Natal transport portfolio committee, held last week.
The party said it was revealed that the current backlog is more than 350 pedestrian bridges.
DA MPL Sharon Hoosen said: “The figure – contained in a report released to the committee – is based on a target of 13 bridges per financial year. In most instances, the bridges are urgently needed in order to allow children to access schools. According to the report, KZN required 471 bridges in 2006. Since then, the DoT claims to have built 116 bridges, leaving a balance of 355.”
Hoosen said the DA was “deeply” concerned by the backlog.
“What it means is that for almost another three decades, thousands of children living in rural communities will have to continue risking their lives, by crossing often dangerous rivers, in order to receive an education.
“Then there is the recent embarrassment which must have been caused by the resurfacing of a media article from 2011, depicting KZN school children forced to cross the swollen uMzinyathi River, near Dundee. It is also worth noting that this area was not part of the initial report of 2006.
“The same report also identifies other options of construction including Bailey bridges, with the assistance of the SANDF. The DoT expects to complete eight bridges under this programme during the next financial year. Unfortunately, the cost of alternatives is not provided and it is for this reason that the DA has requested that an updated study be conducted, one which includes costings on alternatives for all bridges that are required – both pedestrian and vehicular.”
Hoosen said the backlog in the construction of the pedestrian bridges was compounded by the poor implementation of subsidised learner transport in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Our learners must have safe access to their school of choice. Above all, they should not have to risk their lives to receive a basic education.”