Residents get Sabie bridge

THE residents of a rural village in Mpumalanga are over the moon after being told that they will finally get a bridge to cross the hippo-infested Sabie River.

The announcement that a bridge would be built to allow Goromane villagers to cross over to the tourist town of Hazyview was made by the MEC for public works, roads and transport, Clifford Mkasi.

Mkasi said this during his recent policy and budget speech in the provincial legislature for the current financial year. Members of the community in Goromane marched in October last year and early this year demanding that a bridge be built over the Sabie River.

Hazyview is the site of economic activities for several villages, including Goromane. The village is a mere 5km away.

Despite this distance Goromane villagers had been forced to travel for more than 15km via Hoxane or risk being attacked by hippos while crossing the Sabie River.

Goromane community development forum chairperson Saico Masinga said yesterday: "I reported to the community that the budget has included us at last. This village was established in 1963 and believe me many people were killed by hippos while trying to cross the Sabie River. The community is over the moon."

The Goromane community was the only one that marched peacefully during service delivery protests that were rife in Mpumalanga last year.

MEC Mkasi addressed them at the time and promised that he would make sure something was done.

In his policy and budget speech Mkasi announced that R14million had been budgeted for the bridge in Goromane and the Bethal traffic control centre, including a weighbridge.

"Design and construction of the Goromane bridge over the Sabie River as well as the Bethal traffic control centre will be done at a combined cost of R14million," Mkasi said.