FleetWatch has always contended that a road is so much more than a piece of tar. As such, to let a road die through say, lack of maintenance, not only negatively affects the road users but also the communities that live and work alongside that road. The opposite is equally true. When a road thrives, the communities alongside that road thrive with it.
Two examples of this recently came to our notice through Trans African Concessions (TRAC), which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the N4 route. The first was when TRAC officially handed over the newly revamped and upgraded Little Angel School in Matsulu, Mpumalanga to learners and staff.
As education has always been one of TRAC’s Corporate Social Investment priorities, Little Angel School was built and established by TRAC 15 years ago to serve the community of Nkomazi where there is a shortage of English medium schools. Since its inception, the institution has grown considerably and today caters for 145 learners in Grades 00 to 3. It is also one of the feeder schools to the only English primary school in the area.
The initial school building was made up of four classrooms which over the years severely restricted the number of enrolments. This eventually prompted TRAC to upgrade the facility to double its initial size. To ensure the school could accommodate more learners while remaining conducive to learning, TRAC not only built an additional four classrooms but also renovated and revamped the existing building.
Being a foundation phase institution, TRAC felt it imperative to make the structure aesthetically child-friendly and also contracted well-known Lowveld artist, Ghost, to do wall designs on the outside of the main school building.
The official handover of the upgraded and revamped building was attended by TRAC management and staff led by TRAC CEO, Graham Esterhuysen. All the learners and teachers were present at the event which was celebrated with the handing out of special T-shirts to the guests of honour – the pupils – and treating them to some delicious snacks and an appearance by TRAC mascot, Sipho.
During his opening address, Esterhuysen praised the work being done by the institution’s staff and the eagerness of the pupils to learn. He highlighted the importance of Foundation Phase education, noting that TRAC is fully committed to boosting education throughout the N4 Toll Route.
“It is due to the dedication of those who run and make use of this facility that TRAC will continue to back it. As the concessionaire of the Maputo Corridor we pride ourselves on being part of this success story and will continue to support it as an investment to the future,” he said.
Quality health care
Another example of where the surrounding community has benefited from this thriving road is in getting access to quality health care.
The communities living in and around Machadodorp in EmaKhazeni, Mpumalanga have been in need of assistance in this arena for some time, not only due to their geographical positioning but also the economic challenges they’ve experienced in the past few years.
The area has been plagued with a severe shortage of medical practitioners and access to quality healthcare which prompted TRAC to invest in the KuPhila Clinic. TRAC took charge of this clinic in May this year after it closed down in 2014 following the closure of Assmang Chrome – Machado Mine – its original founder in 2009.
Part of TRAC’s role in re-establishing the facility included renovating and upgrading the building and re-equipping it with essential medical equipment before it officially opened earlier this month.
In reopening KuPhile, TRAC also became responsible for the salaries of the six staff members which will man the facility. The clinic expects to consult at least 100 people a month and its core responsibilities will include the diagnosis and treatment of patients of all ages, the provision of preventative medicine for numerous conditions and promoting overall health and wellness.
Although KuPhile Clinic will work within the private medical services framework, albeit offering services at lower rates than conventional private medical facilities, it will also offer pro-bono services to qualifying members of the local community.
As this initiative falls within TRAC’s Enterprise Development scope, the aim is to financially support the institution for two years after which it should be self-sustainable. To further ease this process, all funds generated by the clinic over the next 24 months will go directly back into the clinic.
According to TRAC CEO, Graham Esterhuysen, as the concessionaire of the N4 Toll Route, TRAC is committed to boosting communities along the Maputo Corridor. “We see each and every town and village along this highway as our neighbours and we are passionate about making them healthy and prosperous again.
“We want to see communities thrive and grow and we are determined to go out of our way to make this happen – not because we have to, but because we want to. It is our honour to assist whichever way we can,” he said.
FleetWatch urges all provinces to take note of these two examples and to realise that by maintaining your roads, you are uplifting your surrounding communities and helping to grow South Africa. As the late US President John F Kennedy said: “It is not our strong economy that gave us our good roads, it is our good roads that gave us our strong economy.” Take note!