Du­bi­ous ferry boat pro­cure­ment probed

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Gugu Myeni

THE KZN De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties over the pro­cure­ment of eight ferry boats to trans­port learn­ers who cross dan­ger­ous rivers and dams to get to school.

De­liv­er­ing his de­part­ment’s 2018/19 bud­get, MEC Mthandeni Dlung­wana said, ‘Firm ac­tion will be taken against those who are im­pli­cated.’

The re­ported R4-mil­lion ferry project was launched last year in Enkovukeni in the Umkhanyakude Dis­trict fol­low­ing an au­dit which re­vealed that at least 181 schools have learn­ers that cross rivers or dams on their way to school.

How­ever, the project came un­der the spot­light when it was re­vealed that out of the eight boats pur­chased, only one boat is cur­rently op­er­at­ing in Man­guzi, trans­port­ing 23 learn­ers of Nh­lange High School.

The ser­vice which had been op­er­at­ing in Enkovukeni in 2017 was stopped when the learn­ers moved to a dif­fer­ent school.

Dur­ing a Parliamentary re­ply to the Demo­cratic Al­liance (DA) query in Fe­bru­ary this year, the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment said three boats were be­ing stored at Phumelela and Ma­fukuzela Gandhi cir­cuit of­fices, as well as the Nd­wedwe Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fices. The other four have not yet been de­liv­ered to the de­part­ment.

Last month the DA said it was ‘shocked and dis­ap­pointed by this find­ing’ and ac­cused the de­part­ment of waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture.

‘One of the ex­cuses given by the de­part­ment for the dump­ing of the three boats is that it was only af­ter de­liv­ery that it was es­tab­lished that the land­scape was not con­ducive to ferry boats.

‘This is sim­ply in­ex­cus­able and shows that there was clearly no as­sess­ment or even con­sul­ta­tion with lo­cal schools and com­mu­ni­ties,’ DA KZN spokesper­son on ed­u­ca­tion Dr Rishi­gen Vir­rana said.

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