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The were mixed feelings on the shores of Kosi Lake last Friday when the Department of Transport (DoT), supported by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), handed over a boat for transport purposes to the Enkovukeni community.
The meeting, led by DoT deputy minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, was attended by provincial and local government officials with local villagers under iNkosi Tembe.
The Enkovukeni community, living in a section of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, comprises 157 people living in 37 households. Their only access to the ‘outside’ world is by foot or makeshift boats to cross the lake.
The Maritime Centre of Excellence, part of the KZN Sharks Board, has built the vessel which can carry 10 persons.
But what the community really wants is a bridge and a two-lane road.
Presently, the only entrance by vehicle into the area is a 5km single-lane sand track through coastal forest.
Chikunga said the government would fully investigate the possibility of constructing a bridge across some part of the lake in to provide more secure and safe mobility for the community.
The community appreciated the initiatives which will help children to attend school, transport the sick who need medical help and the elderly who have to collect their social grants.
There were some people, however, who critised the project.
Their main concerns were the training of pilots, management of the boat and a scheduled programme for residents to know the boat’s movements.
Questions were also raised about the possible negative impact the boat will have since it will be travelling through the area where the community has its fish kraals, their main protein source.
Chikunga took note of the issues and said seven government departments would be involved in investigating and addressing the concerns.