Home News Spotlight on school’s soggy saga

Spotlight on school’s soggy saga

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Local social media was recently awash with a startling video showcasing the dire extent of flooding at Northern Cape High School’s sports grounds in Kimberley.

Drone footage captured the extent of the flooding caused by water leaking from the Newton Reservoir onto the sport fields of Northern Cape High School. Picture: Supplied

LOCAL social media was recently awash with a startling video showcasing the dire extent of flooding at Northern Cape High School’s sports grounds in Kimberley.

This alarming drone footage prompted a gathering of key stakeholders at the school on Monday morning, where urgent discussions ensued to address the pressing issue.

Members of Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Department of Education were taken on a tour of the affected area to show them the extent of the flooding and damage caused by the constantly running water.

They were unable to get to the rugby fields due to the water-logged ground, but the drone footage of the fields painted a clear picture of the extent of damage caused by the water spilling onto the school grounds.

Video: Supplied

Since 2016, Northern Cape High School has been grappling with recurrent flooding that has rendered a significant portion of its sports facilities virtually unusable. The severity of the situation has escalated to the point where many sporting activities cannot be conducted on the school grounds.

The source of the flooding predicament lies in an unexpected quarter: clean, purified drinking water, intended for the residents of Kimberley, that cascades from the Newton Reservoir and inundates the rugby fields, tennis courts, hockey fields and netball courts.

Over the years, this persistent flooding has wreaked havoc on the school infrastructure, with water saturating the area and leading to compromised foundations and visible damage such as wet patches on the concrete surfaces and unsightly white patches covering the netball courts.

A waterlogged rugby field is seen from above. Picture: Supplied

Numerous parents have stepped forward to express their frustration with the ongoing flooding predicament at the school, highlighting the detrimental impact it has had on their children’s ability to participate in sporting activities.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one concerned parent revealed that both of his children who are enrolled at Northern Cape High School are keen athletes, with one specialising in tennis and the other in hockey. However, the persistent flooding has effectively barred them from utilising the school’s sports facilities or receiving proper coaching.

“It’s disheartening. We prioritise our children’s education and well-being by paying monthly school fees, yet they’re denied the opportunity to excel in their chosen sports,” the parent lamented.

While acknowledging the school’s limitations, the parent pointed a finger at Sol Plaatje Municipality, holding them accountable for the prolonged negligence of the issue.

“They’ve turned a blind eye to this for far too long. It shouldn’t have taken a viral video on social media to spur them into action,” the parent remarked, expressing gratitude for the newfound urgency but retaining scepticism about the municipality’s commitment to resolving the matter.

A waterlogged rugby field is seen from above. Picture: Supplied

Another concerned parent, who also serves on the school governing body (SGB), echoed similar sentiments, condemning the municipality’s inaction despite being aware of the situation for years.

“It’s a shame that it had to reach this point before they acknowledged the problem. Why did it require a social media outcry to prompt action from those responsible?” the parent asked, while emphasising the municipality’s obligation to address the issue promptly given their resources and expertise.

The tennis courts and hockey field are rendered useless due to the water running over the concrete. Picture: Danie van der Lith

A spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that the department is aware of the situation at Northern Cape High School.

He said that the department has on numerous occasions brought the matter to the attention of Sol Plaatje Municipality.

“On Monday morning, we met with the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the management of Northern Cape High School to address the unfortunate situation at the school. It became clear that the sports facilities are affected, where learners are unable to participate in extramural activities, which play a crucial part in their holistic development,” Van der Merwe said.

He also noted that Sol Plaatje Municipality has committed to immediately intervene and divert the water away from their district office next to the school, which also falls victim to the flooding in the area, and Northern Cape High School as an interim measure.

“The municipality will further do an assessment of the school infrastructure where damages might have been caused by the water leak. The department will monitor the developments closely to afford learners the opportunity to participate in sporting codes and to create a safe environment for learning and teaching,” Van der Merwe concluded.

The netball courts, which were renovated not so long ago, have been flooded yet again and damage to the courts can be seen from above. Picture: Supplied

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thabo Mothibi stated that on Monday morning, the municipality, led by municipal manager Thapelo Matlala, and the Department of Education, led by acting head of department Michelle Ishmael, convened a highly cordial and focused government-to-government meeting. The SGB and the school’s management were also in attendance.

With channels of communication and protocols established, an immediate course of action was agreed upon to ensure the school’s learners do not suffer from any further delays in utilising the sports fields.

The course of action includes:

  • Vegetation clearing will start on Tuesday. This will assist with identifying all possible leaks that could be a source of spillages into the school’s precinct.
  • An interim cut-off drainage system will be created to divert any possible seepage from the reservoirs to the school.
  • Having already started last week fixing leaks on the Newton Reservoir precinct, more repair work will be undertaken next month with minimal inconvenience to residents as the work will be done during the weekend and at night.
  • The long-term intervention in replacing Newton Reservoir’s old pipes and the scope of work covering its refurbishment will unfold in the new financial year, with funds drawn from the R2.5 billion Budget Facility for Infrastructure allocated to the municipality by the National Treasury.
  • The municipality will also, with immediate effect, assist with the swimming pool rehabilitation, especially the functionality of the pump station that is currently flooded.

“The overall sports grounds rehabilitation will be a matter for discussion once all the leaks have been quelled and seepages warded off. A proper assessment will be done. At this stage, we will study the school’s engineer report, which was put before the municipal manager for the first time on Monday morning,” Mothibi concluded.

The swimming pool pump room is flooded with water. Picture: Danie van der Lith

As the plans for rehabilitation and repair take shape, there’s a palpable sense of relief among the Northern Cape High School community. It is hoped that the commitment from both Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Department of Education signals a turning point in the battle against the persistent flooding plaguing the school’s sports grounds.

With each step forward, there’s a renewed hope that soon the vibrant echoes of sporting activities will once again reverberate across the fields.

The swimming pool is in quite a state. Picture: Danie van der Lith

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