DA’s #InTheirShoes walk highlights collapse of EC scholar transport

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA EC Provincial Leader
24 Jan 2024 in Press Statements

Across the Eastern Cape tens of thousands of learners are left stranded next to roads and at bus stops due to the collapse of the provincial transport department’s scholar transport programme. They are unable to attend schools or must walk long and dangerous routes to access their constitutional right to a basic education.

For these learners, the 2024 academic year has not started yet, and they are being left behind while their classmates are advancing.

Today, 24 January 2024, we completed our #InTheirShoes walk in solidarity with these learners to highlight and understand their struggles just to be able to attend school.

[See pictures here, here and here]

The 22 kilometres we travelled was decided on after the plight of learners from Sea Vista who attend schools in Humansdorp, was highlighted. They have not been receiving transport since the start of the school year and the DA and the community of St Francis Bay have stepped in to assist with transporting these learners while the Department sorts out its mess. The walk was arduous and dangerous due to high volumes of traffic. It was clear that these children cannot embark on such a journey on foot.

The blame for this travesty must be laid at the feet of the Department which made a totally inadequate budget available and has made empty promises. The Scholar Transport Programme is out of money and has been since November 2023.

Today we also launched our petition to demand of the Department that learners receive the transport they are entitled to. The petition will be submitted to the office of the MEC of Transport, Xolile Nqatha, in due course.

DA EC Shadow MEC for Transport, Marshall von Buchenroder MPL, has been driving the issue of scholar transport in the Provincial Legislature and has called on MEC Nqatha to put interim plans in place and ensure that learners receive the transport they are entitled to.

Without access to quality education, the future of our learners and our country hangs in the balance. Learners cannot simply be abandoned on the side of the road.

The DA will continue its fight to rescue our learners by ensuring that they receive safe and reliable transport to access quality education.