A dealer is busy welding the paddles of the bicycles belonging to school children along the Moloto Road Picture: France Nyaka
Pupils at Silamba Senior Secondary School in Sun City AA Village near KwaMhlanga who use government-sponsored bicycles to school are unable to get to their classes on time allegedly because of regular breakdowns due to faulty pedals.
Last month, the public works, roads and transport MEC, Dikeledi Mahlangu, donated 769 bicycles to schools in the area.
The donation was part of the departmental programme, Shova Kalula (ride easily), aimed at addressing public transport challenges encountered by pupils in impoverished rural areas.
Last month, Mahlangu told The New Age they donated the bicycles to rural pupils who walked about 3km to school.
She said the Shova Kalula bicycle project had brought change to the lives of many rural pupils within the province since its inception about a decade ago.
The department had seen a need to assist pupils meet public transport challenges in the province.
On Monday morning, The New Age team spotted more than 10 bicycles being fixed along Moloto Road by foreign nationals, who charged them R30 for repairs.
The disgruntled pupils accused provincial authorities of supplying them with poor bicycles.
"We are tired of travelling to school by foot and missing classes. The regular breakdowns started a week after the donation was made to the school," said one pupil.
"The issue compels us to use our lunch money to have them fixed because we cannot travel the long distance to school by foot. "We urge the authorities to help us with right bicycles, especially pedals," he said.
Another pupil said: "We are extremely disappointed about the bicycles with fake pedals. When we received the bicycles we happily thought they will liberate us from the burden of walking about 5km to school by foot.
"We are now stuck because we do not have any mode of transport."
Speaking to The New Age, one of the repairmen, Amukelani Ntoto, a Zimbabwean, said the pupils were their regular customers.
"Our business is flourishing because of the support we receive from the pupils. They always encounter problems about the bicycles' pedals.
"We charge them less than the normal price of R50 per bicycle because they are our regular and loyal customers," said Ntoto.
The provincial spokesperson for the department of public works, roads and transport, Dumisani Malamule, declined to comment. Malamule's senior, David Nkambule, could not be reached either and his cellphone was on voicemail.