Jozini: 17 July 2018
The marooned community of Enkovukeni at Umhlab’uyalingana in northern KwaZulu-Natal is finally breathing easy after receiving a total five motorized boats on Monday, handed over to the Inkosi Tembe by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga.
The boats – all ready to be operated by newly trained skippers from the community who were previously unemployed youths – are a product of a joint initiative between the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) supported by the Department of Transport (DoT) and private sector companies, among them shipping group, Amsol as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board.
It’s a joint initiative that began as the Enkovukeni Outreach Project three years ago as a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of the Nelson Mandela International Day, sparked by an outcry from the Enkovukeni community after it was trapped for months, unable to move, following heavy rains that swell waterways that make up part of the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park that is a World Heritage Site in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
The first of the five boats (in pictures above) was handed to the community in 2016, followed a while later by another, donated by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial Department of Education.
On Monday afternoon during a very wet rainy day – and a day ahead of Tuesday’s reopening of schools towards which children from the about 250 households that make up the village have to daily wade through waist deep water – the community was handed over the last three of the five boats that are intended to assist it with water transport while broader efforts are continuing to establish the feasibility of erecting a permanent bridge in the area.
According to Ms Chikunga at the ceremony on Monday, the building of a permanent bridge across the estuary would be an ideal solution but this would require extensive consultations among several government departments and other affected or interested entities.
From a financial perspective she said, current estimates indicated that it would be a highly expensive exercise largely due to the character of the landscape of the area.
She urged the community to actively engage in the exercise in two ways; first by ensuring it was represented in tasks teams shouldered with responsibility for the feasibility studies, but also in embarking on entrepreneurial initiatives that will financial support pursuit of its aspirations.
“These boats that we are handing over to you today, are not Government or anyone else’s property but your property as a community and which you must protect and preserve as best you can in your own interest. But in addition, you must find ways in which you will raise funds to maintain them with fuel as well as all other necessary repairs,” she said.
For a full address by Ms Chikunga, click on the video below.
Meanwhile, as part of the Nelson Mandela International Day celebration that begun on Sunday this week, Ms Chikunga handed the elderly in the area with blankets as well as dozens of pairs of shoes for school going children.