The DBSA proactively identified this infrastructure gap from social media. Due to a lack of transport, rural learners (some as young as seven) walk long distances and swim across rivers daily to get to school and to return home. This is due to a lack of scholar transport as well as the lack of a direct access route to the schools.
This daily ordeal poses significant safety and health risks to the children including drownings and the threat of crime. More than 120 learners from the remote villages of KwaShukela and Nondabuya, situated near the uPhongolo River, in the Jozini and uMhlabuyalingana local municipalities are affected.
Internally in the DBSA, the KZN Footbridge CSI project has drawn on the skills and expertise of the DBSA’s Stakeholder Relationship Management Function, frontline divisions, i.e. Project Preparation, Coverage and the IDD.
The DBSA’s partners and stakeholders are also in the process of being crowded-in to contribute to the funding of the construction of the footbridge, which is located in the Umkhanyakude District. Best practice lessons are drawn out of the process to inform multidisciplinary and diverse expertise team compositions in other teams across the bank.
The Bank explored with community stakeholders and found the bridge to have a huge community development impact in rural KZN and potential for a catalytic role for the DBSA crowding-in other corporate role players.
Engagement sessions with the community and school stakeholder teams included school principals, teachers, school governing bodies, mayors, municipal managers and the Chief Financial Officers of the Jozini and Umhlabuyalingana local municipalities, representatives from the provincial departments of Education and Transport as well as the Chieftainship of the areas.
The stakeholders agreed on the provision of buses as a short term measure and mobilisation of other sponsors for the construction of a footbridge as a long term solution.
- Provide safe infrastructure to enable leaners in the
- municipalities to attend school;
- Improve learner safety and access to education;
- Increase retention of learners at school;
- Improved sustainability of learning opportunities; and
- Integrated economic development by:
- Enhanced access to health and other facilities across the Uhlanjana River
- Facilitate access by households to agricultural fields across the river.
Interim solution – providing scholar transport
It was a joyous sight to see learners and parents receiving the buses. The Bank provided two buses for scholar transport to 125 affected learners as an interim measure to the prevailing transport challenges.
Through its supply chain process, the DBSA procured a scholar transport service provider and a contract was concluded with a bus company for a 24-month period. The school bus transport service commenced on the first day of the 2019 school year.
Long term solution – construction of pedestrian bridge
A pedestrian bridge will be constructed as a permanent solution providing direct access to the schools across the Uhlanjana River. The DBSA has undertaken detailed planning of the bridge using its non-lending 2018/19 Development Subsidy allocation. A professional service provider, an engineering and project management company, was appointed to provide detailed design and supervision of the construction of the bridge. The design contractors were introduced to the local stakeholders and the design process has been concluded.