False start for Kuyga scholars as MEC’s promise of transport fails to materialise
Hundreds of pupils were left stranded in Kuyga yesterday when the Department of Transport failed to supply buses to ferry them to schools just outside Port Elizabeth.
This came after Kuyga resembled a battlefield last week as residents clashed violently with police over scholar transport.
Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana and Education MEC Mandla Makupula met on Wednesday night to solve the catalyst for the conflict – the scrapping of the free transport service for Kuyga children to farm schools outside their area.
After the meeting, Tikana said the free service would be reinstated on Monday (yesterday).
But some of the 693 pupils who live in Kuyga, near Greenbushes, and last attended school just before the Easter weekend, spent yesterday morning waiting for their buses.
Tikana apologised to pupils, parents and teachers yesterday.
“The department is finalising the appointment of service providers, which [process] unfortunately met some challenges,” she said.
Tikana said the department had met the service providers yesterday.
“We apologise to parents, pupils and teachers for the inconvenience and plead for patience as we are committed to [finalising] the matter urgently,” she said.
The department cut the transport service earlier this year due to budget constraints and said the children should instead attend Kuyga Intermediate Primary – but the school is already full.
Yellowwood Primary School Grade 9 pupil Thuliswa Dyonsolo, 15, called the no-show of buses yesterday pathetic.
“It hurts and I am feeling really bad about this,” she said. “We are expected to write June exams soon. “We are really behind with our school work.”
Dyonsolo said she had waited for three hours before giving up and going home. Her father, Kwanele Fani, 35, said that, like others parents in Kuyga, he was concerned about his daughter’s future.
“These children have not attended classes for weeks now,” he said.
“The department abruptly stopped the buses. We were relieved when we heard that buses would be available, but when the children got there, there were none.”
Onikwa Yamile, 36, the mother of three children who attend Yellowwood Primary School, said she had hoped the protest had worked and transport would be made available. “I bathed my children for school.
I accompanied them to the bus stop.We waited for hours, the buses did not arrive,” she said. Yamile said the community was contemplating new protests.
Philasande April, 13, said she was no longer sure if she would ever finish her schooling at Yellowwood Primary School.
“We waited for the buses from 7am but none arrived,” she said. “[It does] not feel right that we are not in class while others are.”
The schools attended by the Kuyga children include the Colleen Glen, Van Stadens, Ye l – lowwood, Island Reserve and St Albans primary schools.