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Disabled pupils toprotest at subway

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"We will also bring our buckets, spades and everything else we need in an attempt to fix the situation ourselves"

DISGRACE: Kenilworth subway remains flooded and impassable. Picture: Soraya Crowie

IN A DESPERATE attempt to get the Sol Plaatje Municipality to hear the pleas to fix a leaking water pipe, which has left the Kenilworth subway flooded and impassable, physically and mentally disabled pupils and employees at Yonder will be protesting at the subway on Friday.

Jannie van Zyl, the CEO of Yonder, described the hopelessness felt by the centre.

“We have 17 different workshops, as well as a nursery and restaurant, which sells handmade goods and plants to members of the public. However, people are not coming here anymore because they cannot drive through the subway. Our sales have dropped significantly and we do not know what to do anymore,” said Van Zyl.

He pointed out that Yonder provided employment for 300 adults in its protective workshops, while an additional 200 pupils attended school at the Jannie Brink Centre.

“We have 14 vehicles which run on a daily basis to transport pupils. They now have to travel an additional 10km detour because they cannot drive through the subway. This is also costing us a lot of money which has not been budgeted for and we are becoming desperate.”

He said the centre’s employees, together with pupils from the school, would participate in the planned protest action. “We will also bring our buckets, spades and everything else we need in an attempt to fix the situation ourselves.”

Van Zyl said a local business had also offered its support and had promised graders and other equipment needed to assist in the operation.

According to Van Zyl, the flooding has been caused by a water pipe which is leaking at a join. “You can see where it is leaking – it is not due to an increase in the water table, as claimed by the Sol Plaatje Municipality. The soil that has been thrown in the area has also not helped and just made the situation worse.”

He pointed out that a pipe in the road was also leaking.

“We want the municipality to know that we will be there – we will stop the cars and do whatever we can to make sure they listen to our cries.”

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said on Friday that according to information received from the Roads and Stormwater engineer (and acting director of Infrastructure at the municipality), Thabiso Raseobi, the municipality was aware of the prevailing problem at the Kenilworth subway.

“We have located an area which could be the source of the persistent pooling of water. The underpass is the lowest point in the surrounding area and thus water accumulates on the road,” said Matsie.

He added that the muddy water had a high clay content and thus blocked the stormwater system perpetually.

“We are in the process of executing a plan to drain the water in a westerly direction. Due to the current dry weather conditions, now is the most appropriate time to execute this plan.”

Matsie gave the assurance that the situation was under control. “Once the water has dissipated we will finally repair the road.”

At the beginning of June already, more than three months ago, the municipality originally indicated that it was aware of the problem and that it was doing everything it could to remedy the situation, citing the same reasons for the pooling of water.

At the time, the municipality also said it was executing a plan to drain the water and eradicate the problem for good and that the problem was under control. However, nothing has been done and the situation has remained unchanged despite repeated promises.

The road has been described by residents as “dangerous and an accident waiting to happen”.

Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) CEO, Sharon Steyn, said that she had also reported the issue on numerous occasions to the municipality.

“Each time the answers are different. This is a disgrace and a danger to the people of Kimberley and Kenilworth,” Steyn said at the time.