“Life has changed. The bi­cy­cles will not only serve as trans­port to school, but will also en­cour­aged us to at­tend school reg­u­larly.”

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The Deputy Min­is­ter of Trans­port, Sin­disiwe Chikunga, who at­tended the han­dover, ex­plained that the ini­tia­tive aims to im­prove mo­bil­ity for learn­ers in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas who have to walk 5km or more to school.

The Na­tional Bi­cy­cle pro­gramme was launched as a pi­lot project in 2001 and the ini­tial tar­get was one mil­lion bi­cy­cles by 2010.

“The pro­gramme is an in­ter­ven­tion to im­prove mo­bil­ity and ac­cess to ba­sic needs and so­cial and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple, es­pe­cially in ru­ral, re­mote and poorly re­sourced ar­eas,” said Chikunga.

Bi­cy­cle main­te­nance shops were es­tab­lished in var­i­ous prov­inces to main­tain the bikes and en­sure job cre­ation and SMME de­vel­op­ment.

The project forms part of a road safety ini­tia­tive that pro­motes non-mo­torised trans­port and road safety aware­ness.

As well as mak­ing travel eas­ier for the youth Deputy Min­is­ter Chikunga said that gov­ern­ment must also pri­ori­tise a fu­ture that en­ables them to de­velop and ad­vance our coun­try and se­cure their fu­ture.

“The world de­mands more so­phis­ti­cated prod­ucts and ser­vices and there is a great need for skilled peo­ple to pro­duce them,” she said.

Asanda Fakazi (15), a ben­e­fi­ciary of a bi­cy­cle, is a Grade 10 learner at Nton­gande High School. She said that walk­ing the long dis­tance to school re­sulted in her miss­ing some of the lessons.

“Life has changed. The bi­cy­cles will not only serve as trans­port to school, but will also en­cour­age us to at­tend school reg­u­larly,” she said.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s Mayor, Smanga Mgenge, said they are very grate­ful for the do­na­tion. “These bi­cy­cles are for learn­ers, no one else. I urge you not to mis­use them,” he said.

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