Eastern Cape schools help beautify national roads

Primary and high school learners showed off their art skills, painting murals on more than 40 dilapidated bus stops in their area.

First place went to Bathandwa Ndondo Senior Secondary School located in Mnxe Village. Painted in the beautiful colours of an African sunset, with a silhouette of the bushveld, the bus stop mural they created can be seen 48.6km along the route.

Learners from 12 Eastern Cape schools have helped beautify 40 run-down bus stops along the R410 national road between Lady Frere and Quiba.

The schools took part in a mural competition run by South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) as part of a community involvement initiative to uplift and inspire ownership of the recently rehabilitated R410 road.

The 36 learners, from both primary and high schools, were provided with the paints and brushes needed to decorate the bus stops, while the road agency put traffic calming and safety measures in place on the days that the painting took place.

“Forty-four bus stops located within the project limits that were found to be in poor condition were included in the initiative,” SANRAL southern region manager, Mbulelo Peterson, explained.

“Competition participants were given a timeframe in which to complete the murals and the winning murals were selected by the project engineer, project manager and contractor.”

Winners

First place went to Bathandwa Ndondo Senior Secondary School located in Mnxe Village. Painted in the beautiful colours of an African sunset, with a silhouette of the bushveld, the bus stop mural they created can be seen 48.6km along the route.

Second place went to Nompumelelo Junior Secondary School from Percy Village in Lady Frere, while Ntlalontle Junior Secondary School, also in Lady Frere, took third place.

Their bus stops were adorned with symbols of the country: one included the South African flag and a depiction of a young Nelson Mandela and reference to his book Long Walk to Freedom, while the other showed a typical rural scene replete with familiar hills in the distance and a homestead surrounded by trees and dam.

“I am so proud of how well the children at our school do in visual art as a subject,” says Bathandwa Ndondo Senior Secondary School principal, Busisiwe Gqweta. “The children are so happy they won. The money will be used to buy material for painting.”

Sibaphiwe Manyingiza, a Grade 12 learner at Bathandwa, said this was the first time he had participated in a competition. “This was such a wonderful experience. Winning the competition means so much to us,” he said.

Another Grade 12 learner, Mthetho Matomela, dreams of being a professional artist one day and wants to study art after high school.

Grade 11 Buhle Gomba is passionate about art and was happy to have been part of a winning team. “We need more people to come to our school and work with us on art projects,” he added.

Taking ownership of local facilities

“The finished bus stops add to the aesthetic of the completed road and beautify the area through which this portion of the R410 traverses,” Peterson said.

The initiative assisted the community take ownership of the facilities that they make use of on a daily basis, according to Peterson, and this would help ensure the bus stops were not vandalised in the future.

A recurring theme in the murals was one of road safety, indicative of the impact that such a road has on local communities. “It is hoped that the completion of this project, including the safety improvements that were undertaken, will contribute to improved road safety for those that live and work along this section of the R410,” Peterson said.

The community involvement initiative followed the completion of SANRAL’s periodic road maintenance project on the R410.

The R60-million project included maintenance on the existing roads in the area, repairing potholes, fixing cracks and replacing stones. Road safety signage and pedestrian safety measures were also improved.

“SANRAL is looking to implement similar community involvement initiatives across the region,” Peterson concluded.

Author

Ray Maota

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