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Media Release

30 January, 2002

Removal of crossing puts children at risk

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister.

The Principal of Regina Coeli Roman Catholic Primary School in Belgravia, Athlone, Mr Alfonso Pereira, invited me to visit the school today (Wednesday, 30 January 2002) to learn more about road safety conditions on the corner of Klipfontein Road and 5th Avenue where the school is situated.

I was shocked and dismayed by what I found there. Klipfontein Road is a major, six-lane arterial road, bounded by service roads on each side. Children have to cross eight lanes of traffic to get to the school, which is extremely hazardous, even for adults.

There was a pedestrian crossing over Klipfontein Road opposite the school, with pedestrian traffic lights, until the start of the new school term.

The day before schools opened, contractors working on an intersection for the Athlone Stadium, removed the traffic lights, without any plan in place to provide a safe pedestrian crossing for children needing to get to school.

Following urgent intervention by the principal, the Unicity has erected pedestrian lights at a temporary crossing nearby, which now means that children have to take a circuitous route, involving walking down a traffic island and negotiating mounds of building sand.

Squads of 12-year-old scholar patrollers are doing what they can to ensure safety across this major thoroughfare, but the situation is still life-threatening and far from satisfactory. At the very least, the Unicity should see to the following:

  1. There must be at least two traffic officers on the scene every day until the road works have been completed.
  2. There must be adequate signs for motorists, warning them about children crossing the road.

I have written to the Mayor, Mr Gerald Morkel, asking for an explanation for this terrible state of affairs, and have demanded that these two measures be implemented immediately.

A motorist injured a 14-year-old learner from Athlone High School at this intersection in Klipfontein Road last week. Another high school learner was killed on this road last year. It's a miracle that no primary school learner has been killed or injured here so far, and this is probably owing to the vigilance of Mr Pereira and his staff.

This situation must be dealt with urgently.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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