From the news desk

Reckless driving on Koeberg road angers teachers, learners

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By Wardah Wilkinson

Schools in Maitland are calling on authorities to address road safety in their area, as learners are being subjected to reckless driving on Koeberg road. Two weeks ago, a 16-year-old learner in Grade 10 at Maitland High was killed after being hit by a truck from the depo which is less than 50meters away. In a separate incident, a Grade 6 learner was involved in an accident in front of the school.

Maitland Secondary School headmaster Riedwaan Kenny said the death of Bianca Raheema Ngolli was unneccesary and could have been prevented. She and her parents hail from Cameroon, and her father had returned home to his country of origin at the time of her passing. He could not attend her janazah last Wednesday 21 March as he could not get a visa. Kenny described Raheema as one of the school’s top learners.

“The accident had occurred approximately 45mins after school closed as she had stayed after school for an extra class. She and three boys were the last to leave. There is a container depo, whose trucks pass the school and when there is a new boat at the harbour, the amount of trucks passing increases,” said Kenny.

The trucks often lines up in front of the schools’ property, blocking anyone from entering the school property. He said this is not the first time an accident had occurred in front of the school property.

“About three years ago, a pregnant City of Cape Town worker was killed in a similar way. There needs to be a real look at the traffic and road use around Royal, Koeberg, and Coronation and Station road. On the same day a second child was knocked down on the corner of Station and Royal road. The City of Cape Town and the Traffic Department need to re-assess and redirect traffic in that area,” he said.

Mr Kenny said the school cannot do much as they need the assistance of the City of Cape Town and the Traffic Department.  Since the accident, concerned parents have mobilised to take action. The school has urged adults to be present when the learners leave and before school starts.

“The corner where the accident took place has been dripped with ribbon and flowers in her honour. Parents has stepped forward and community organizations are also trying to help. We should highlight it with the authorities to show how serious we are,” he explained.

The principal of Koeberg Primary School Mr Anwar Allie, whose school is situated on the corner of Koeberg and Royal road in Maitland, said the death of the learner from their neighbouring school has devestated teachers and pupils.

On a visit to the school last week, VOC News witnessed the daily challenges faced by leaarners on this stretch of road.

Allie explained how the school had been pleading for assistance to address the safety of their learners. He said the road was widened and a slipway put in, which ended up taking part of the school property. This, he said, had increased the dangers facing learners.

“A truck was coming from Royal road and stopped in front of our gate. As the pedestrian light was red, a taxi coming from the other direction crushed into the truck. One of our learners was in that taxi. It shocked me that she and any of the other people survived. She only had minor injuries but is still traumatized. We contacted the City of Cape Town, but nothing happened,” said Allie.

Allie was at a school government body meeting on the March 14th when someone came to the school informing them that a child was knocked over by a truck. He had gone into panic thinking that it was one of their learners.

“I ran down thinking it was one of my children. When I got there, I discovered it was a high school girl. She was dead on impact even before the ambulance arrived. Imagine…six tryes driving your body…you not going to survive. Then suddenly the City of Cape Town decided to respond when I informed them at a learner had died,” he said.

The girl was standing on the pavement when the truck’s trailer cut across the curb and hit her. According to the witness, the truck was turning from Royal Road into Station Road, towards a shipping container depot. He said that after giving them this information, the city council said they will look into the matter. He said that he had been trying for more than a year to negotiate a solution and had a meeting with various officials such as the ward councilor, traffic department and City of Cape Town.

“In the end the outcome was there is no money. They can’t give a lollipop lady [pointsmen], to stand on the pedestrian crossing as there is no money to pay the salary. We were not offered any other alternatives.”

Allie feels the school is being discriminated against based on its economic status.

“The learners have actually pointed out that if they their school was in a more a more influential area we would have not been facing these challenges,” he added.

Some learners in a Grade 6 class said they have witnessed many accidents in front of their school.

“A child in my class had been in an accident in the taxi, and a second got bumped by a truck,” said one learner.

“A taxi and a truck and made an accident in front of the school due to the taxi rushing,” added another.

“The taxi doesn’t stop, and the trucks don’t respect us as humans. The truck didn’t hoot but just passed  the trailer which came in front of my feet, due to the trailer being loose.”

“Our safety rights are being violated by the taxi and trucks.”

A Grade R teacher Mrs Karns explained  the challenges that the teachers face with regards to the traffic situation.

“In the mornings when we come in with our cars, the taxis and trucks don’t stop, then we can’t enter the school. In the afternoon, we have to wait for more than 10mins to just to get out by the gate. We the teachers  take the risk of helping the learners cross the road, and the taxi and trucks just ignore us,” said Mrs Karns.

Mr Kenny believes that earphones and cell phones are a distraction when the learners are in the street. This also makes them a target for crime and parents need to educate their children on safety, he added.

The learners at Koeberg primary gave possible solutions as to what could solve the safety changes they are facing. Some of these suggestions included dedicated lanes for trucks and taxis, a traffic cop constantly outside the school during peak hours, and cameras installed at the traffic lights.

“If there is a lollipop man in front of our school, they will speed and then pay a fine. But they can’t pay for the life of the person who died to their speeding,” said one passionate learner.

The Western Cape Education Department and City of Cape Town did not respond at the time of publishing. 


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