Dubious ferry boat procurement probed
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.