By Nkosi Duma
After wading through crocodile, hippopotamus and rhinoceros infested waters for decades the community of Enkovukeni, a small village at Umhlabuyalingana on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal could soon have a bridge.
Deputy Minister of the Department of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, accompanied by members of top management of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), private sector representatives and KwaZulu-Natal provincial and local government officials, recently met the villagers and their traditional leader Inkosi Tembe when she made the announcement.
Chikunga told those present that President Jacob Zuma had agreed to make the initiative - a presidential project.
“The next step, “ she said, “is the establishment of an inter-ministerial task team involving deputy ministers of the respective departments in order to ensure that we package a comprehensive programme that will deliver on the issues requiring address.”.
Initial efforts by the department of Transport and seven other national departments – Public Works; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Basic Education, Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Small Business, Trade and Industry, Energy Affairs, and Arts and Culture – as well as the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has already begun.
She told the community that she would return in the next few weeks to deliver shoes to school going children as well as certain basic necessities to families. She said that government would investigate the possibility of constructing a bridge across a part of the lake to provide more secure and safe mobility for the community.
However to do so would mean working around a host of international conventions, domestic laws, rules and regulations – as the villages live near the Isimangaliso World Heritage Site.
In the meantime a boat has been donated by the South African Maritime and Safety Authority (SAMSA) to the community with two more said to be coming in the next few weeks. The boats will assist school children to cross the lake daily to attend class, the sick that need medical help and the elderly to collect their social grants.