What does a school toilet have to do with trucking? A lot actually and it is thus that FleetWatch is highlighting this story.
As we are all aware, there are many service delivery protests being staged on an almost daily basis around the country. Such protests have severely affected the trucking industry as many of these protests have resulted in damage incurred to trucks which inadvertently get caught up in the protests. Some drivers have even lost their lives in such incidents.
FleetWatch does not condone any form of violence during any form of protest but many communities are angry at their local municipalities – and at central government – for failing to deliver on promises made to improve their lives and living conditions. The problem is that their anger often gets directed at innocent truckers. When a truck arrives, it becomes an easy target to vent their anger.
Local communities have been made many promises by their councillors and other leaders over the years – many of which have not been met. Basics like running water, toilets and electricity are still just a dream for many.
Particularly awful as a result of such inaction have been the incidences of young kids falling into and dying in pit latrines where proper toilets should have been installed. Even President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted, when speaking at the launch of the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative back in 2018, that not enough had been done to rid schools of pit toilets. The aim of SAFE is to eradicate pit latrines in schools across South Africa. It was at that launch that he called on business leaders to pledge their support towards the eradication of pit latrines in schools.
An audit done by the Department of Basic Education at the time showed that there were still 3 998 schools across the country that only have pit toilets and a further 3 040 schools with proper sanitation as well as pit toilets that have not been demolished.
One company that has heeded the call is Engen which has pledged an initial R2.5-million in support of SAFE. Engen is partnering with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Department of Education on this initiative.
Engen’s involvement got out the starting blocks at the beginning of this month – on February 6, 2020 – at Madima Primary School, Saulspoort (Rampipi Section), Modderkuil in the North-West province.
Builders drawn from the community helped transform the school’s ablution facilities, which now include brand-new bathroom facilities, including ten toilets and six basins for the girl’s bathroom, as well as four toilets, six urinals and three basins for the boy’s bathroom. As you can see from the accompanying photograph, the toilet facilities prior to this project being undertaken were shocking.
“When government called on corporate South Africa to help provide safe and appropriate sanitation, we wanted to do our part and help spare young South Africans the indignity associated with using pit latrines, as well as eradicate any future danger,” says Engen head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, Unathi Magida.
“Access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation is a right, not a privilege and this is why supporting the SAFE school sanitation initiative is so important for Engen. Not only will dignified, age-appropriate sanitation facilities improve learners’ health and safety, it will also enable them to focus on their studies and attend school with dignity,” she says.
Another big plus – and one which I don’t think Engen has thought of – is that it will, hopefully, lead to fewer trucks been destroyed in service delivery protests. If you know your kids are safe at school, you will live a little easier. Thanks Engen. If we all link hands, South Africa will become a better and safer place for all.