Rush to get all stu­dents home as lock­down looms

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE - OKUHLE HLATI okuhle.hlati@inl.co.za

WESTERN Cape Uni­ver­si­ties have been work­ing around the clock to trans­port stu­dents out of their res­i­dences and home, as the na­tional lock­down com­mences at mid­night tonight.

The in­sti­tu­tions have so far recorded six Covid-19 cases, four of them at UCT, one at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity and an­other at UWC. All of the in­fected in­di­vid­u­als are in quar­an­tine.

Ac­cord­ing to UCT spokesper­son Eli­jah Mo­holola, hun­dreds of stu­dents have al­ready been trans­ported to the East­ern Cape, Free State, Gaut­eng and KwaZulu-Na­tal.

“UCT has to close all res­i­dences and re­quire ev­ery stu­dent to re­turn home as soon as pos­si­ble. More buses have been ar­ranged for stu­dents who have re­quested travel as­sis­tance in light of the lock­down.

“Stu­dents who need to travel a fur­ther dis­tance from the met­ros will be as­sisted to en­sure that they reach their homes safely. The univer­sity will en­gage with for­eign em­bassies to en­sure that in­ter­na­tional stu­dents can re­turn safely to their coun­tries,” said Mo­holola.

He said the in­sti­tu­tion was putting ev­ery pos­si­ble mea­sure in place to sup­port as many stu­dents as they could.

“Fur­ther ar­range­ments put in place last week to sup­port stu­dents through this un­prece­dented pe­riod in­cluded im­me­di­ate pay­ment of al­lowances for all stu­dents on fi­nan­cial aid, li­ais­ing with the Department of Home Af­fairs in cases in­volv­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and se­cur­ing safe stor­age for stu­dents’ be­long­ings,” said Mo­holola.

Some stu­dents re­ported con­fu­sion and no clear in­struc­tion about where they were be­ing taken.

At CPUT, stu­dents re­ported chaos, as thou­sands were told to va­cate res­i­dences.

They waited in the rain at the Dis­trict Six cam­pus for shut­tles to trans­port them to Bel­lville cam­pus.

One stu­dent said she was wor­ried that there would not be enough buses to trans­port them home.

“This looks like some­thing that was planned at the last minute. We are all be­ing trans­ported to Bel­lville where a bus is ex­pected to take us home tonight. If there are not enough buses we don’t know where we will sleep be­cause there are over a thou­sand of us,” she said.

CPUT’s Lauren Kans­ley said man­age­ment would be char­ter­ing buses to as­sist res­i­dence stu­dents to re­turn home.

“We ap­pre­ci­ated that it would be dif­fi­cult for these stu­dents to re­turn

home with lim­ited flights and buses avail­able and the de­ci­sion was taken to as­sist them to get home safely and back to their families.”

UWC spokesper­son Gas­ant Abarder said they were in the process of pro­vid­ing buses at no cost to stu­dents.

“There are 40 peo­ple per bus in 60-seater buses to cre­ate space dur­ing the com­mute.

“The univer­sity will be closed dur­ing the lock­down and there will be no ser­vices, such as med­i­cal and other sup­port, avail­able to stu­dents,” Abarder said.

Department of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Deputy Min­is­ter Bhuti Manamela will lead a Covid-19 team in­clud­ing Uni­ver­si­ties South Africa and Higher Health and health ex­perts to co-or­di­nate sec­tor re­sponse and col­late in­sti­tu­tional case man­age­ment re­ports.

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