Barkly West - Pupils at Barkly West Primary School are sharing their school grounds with overflowing raw sewage.

Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said on Thursday that the department was aware of the situation at the school.

“We have deployed our infrastructure unit to the school to assess the situation, where teachers and pupils are exposed to the overflowing sewage on the school premises,” said Van der Merwe.

He added that the department was also engaging with the municipality to move speedily to address this matter and to find a long-term solution to the problem.

“We will keep a close eye on the situation to ensure that the health and well-being of our teachers and pupils are not placed at risk,” Van der Merwe said.

The DA’s Safiyia Stanfley on Thursday called on the MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, and the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Bentley Vass, to urgently work together to ensure that the sewage crisis at the school is fixed “once and for all”.

“The overflowing raw sewage yesterday just about reached the steps of the classrooms at the primary school.”

According to Stanfley, this was the second time in two months that the sewage crisis had interrupted schooling at this particular school, due to a breakdown in the municipal pumps.

“Last month, an oversight inspection confirmed that pupils were sent home due to overflowing raw sewage at the primary school. To date, however, the situation has been managed on an ad hoc basis, with only temporary solutions.

“This is despite the fact that R7.5 million was paid into the municipality’s account in order to permanently fix the sewerage system of the school, as well as three problematic drains and water linkages that form part of the entire sewerage system in the area.”

Stanfley added that the party was questioning the management of the R7.5 million. “At the same time, we also have reservations regarding the amount. This is against the backdrop of conflicting reports that indicate that it should only cost in the region of R1 million to permanently fix the problems.”

The DA will, according to Stanfley, write to MECs Bartlett and Vass, asking that they prioritise this matter and intervene to reduce health risks for pupils, teachers and staff at the school and create an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching.

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