Members of the small-scale fishing community of Enkovukeni in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, and who lives in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, received a boat from the Department of Transport and the South African Marine Safety Authority (SAMSA), on Friday September 9.

The boat and other essential services including engines were handed over to the community by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, as part of SAMSA’s Umhlabuyalingana Outreach Project.

It was announced at the launch that the boat and services handed over on the day, was the first of three boats that will eventually be handed over to the community.

Lindani Ngubane, Masifundise Development Trust (MDT) fieldworker in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), who attended the handing-over ceremony with the rest of the community, said that the boat and engines is a great benefit to the community.

“The community of Enkovukeni is separated from the rest of the world by the Enhlange River and Makawulane River,” said Ngubane.

“Children have to wait for low-tide every day before they can cross the river to go to school. Most people cross the river by walking through the river,” said Ngubane.

“Enkovukeni is a thin 5km strip of land, practically an island, stretching from Bhanga Neck to Kosi Bay Mouth with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Kosi Bay lake system on the other. The area is virtually only accessible by foot or make shift canoes which residents currently use,” said deputy minister Chikunga in a press release leading up to the handing over ceremony.

“The boats will be of benefit to the school children, they are important, because we need our children to learn and have good jobs when they finish school.”

“The boats will also be of help to people who will be going to work, for shopping, people going to the clinic and hospitals, these boats will have a great impact.”

Ngubane says that the first boat was just shown to the community and people were taken on a ride on the boat on the day of the launch.

He says the boat was not given over to the community yet, neither has it been decided who is going to manage it.

The river and the Enkovukeni community falls within the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, which is a world heritage site and is managed by the iSimangaliso Heritage Trust Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Trust.

Ngubane is not certain if the boats will be handed over to Ezemvelo, or if the community will be given the responsibility, but, he says the deputy minister promised that members of the community will be trained to skipper and man the boats, and in the process provide work to members of the community.

“The deputy minister promised to come back, and two more boats will be handed over to the community.”

The community of Enkovukeni faces various socio-economic challenges including lack of sufficient infrastructure and limited access to social and other services, which include proper bridges the community can use to cross the river.

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