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