Ricochet News

100 bicycles to improve safety and create jobs in Nelson Mandela Bay

By Afikile Lugunya - May 24, 2018
100 bicycles to improve safety and create jobs in Nelson Mandela Bay

The hosts of Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Nelson Mandela Bay, in partnership with Qhubeka, a non-profit organisation that donates bicycles as part of the World Bicycle Relief's charity programme in South Africa, and Volkswagen donated 100 bicycles to cyclists on Wednesday.

Qhubeka donated 50 bicycles while Volkswagen also matched the number by donating another 50 bicycles.

The cyclists, who received the bicycles will act as “peace officers” in the city in preparation for the Ironman 70.3 World Champion which will be held in September.

The 100 peace officers will get a stipend and the executive mayor, Athol Trollip said that all those who were chosen were unemployed but had a great passion in cycling sport.

The cyclist’s responsibility will be to conduct patrols along the Ironman 70.3 race course and they consist of the unemployed youth from Ward 1, 3, 4 & 40.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor Athol Trollip said that this opportunity is a life time empowerment because it will allow them to work closely with the safety industry and in the future they might themselves serving in the South African Police Service department and so on.

“The project should go way beyond the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in September to ensure continuous programmes and intensified participation in cycling.”

The additional 50 bicycles from Volkswagen SA will be distributed to 30 beach officers and 20 tourism ambassadors.

The aim of the initiative is to empower the community to support and protect tourists, visitors and cyclists through bicycle patrols, and in the process to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

The community impact is a total of 100 new jobs that pay a decent monthly living wage. Bicycle recipients have been selected based on specific criteria that include being unemployed and aged between 18 and 35 years old.

Speaking for Qhubeka, Matt Fendick, said that they were very humbled to be in a partnership with the NMB and to be part of a sport initiative.

“We look forward to returning in the NMB and taking part in many more initiative. We would also like to wish a safe journey to those who will be partaking with the Qhubeka bicycles."

Tsatsi Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director, added; “South Africa has high levels of youth unemployment, so we’re excited that this programme will see 100 young people trained and kitted out as city ambassadors, tourism ambassadors and beach officers.

“Furthermore, their new bicycles will belong to them and can be used as a mode of transport.”

Phaweni explains that some beneficiaries were trained as bicycle mechanics to ensure the bicycles will be well maintained in the long term, and to create an additional opportunity for a micro enterprise.

“Visible bicycle patrols along the Ironman route, and visibility along beaches will assist visitors and tourists with information. Their hospitality will help residents, visitors, tourists, cyclists and runners to feel safer,” she says.

“We also hope this programme will stimulate interest in cycling among local communities, and promote it as a mode of transport across NMBM. Our long-term hope is to create a legacy programme that can be incorporated into existing neighbourhood watches, thus creating a sense of security in communities and the general public.”

Markus Tschirschwitz from Volkswagen said that they were grateful to be taking part in an initiative that would create job opportunities for young people while doing what they love doing.

Trollip enthused about the city’s readiness to host the first ever Ironman 70.3 World Championship to be hosted on the African continent.

“As the Host City for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, we have extensive responsibilities involving planning and preparation in a wide variety of fields. These include the upgrade of road infrastructure, communication and marketing (including ICT and community outreach), safety and security, water safety, waste management, public transport, accommodation, tourism and delivery of a sustainable legacy for the community," he described.

“We acknowledge that we are faced with an increased challenge with the safety and security of athletes, particularly on cycling routes.

“Our Safety and Security Directorate, incorporating the Metro Police, Traffic Law Enforcement and Security Services, initiated several proactive safety measures in collaboration with South African Police Services (SAPS), sporting clubs representing cyclists, Ironman South Africa and the communities along the cycling route."

Triathletes from 90 countries already qualified to participation in Port Elizabeth in September with more qualifying slots still up for grabs during regional Ironman events around the world.

“It is amazing to see the city come together in making every effort to secure the safety of our athletes,” said Paul Wolff, Ironman South Africa Director of Operations.

“Safety is a top priority for us as we welcome many international athletes to our country and specifically to Nelson Mandela Bay. It is encouraging to see everybody coming together and taking ownership of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. We are supportive of the Qhubeka initiative and are confident it will make a difference.”

Meredith Kelly, Marketing Manager for Passenger Vehicles for Volkswagen South Africa, echoed similar sentiments.

“In an age where community involvement and partnerships with societal groups are increasingly being recognised as indispensable, VW SA’s partnership with Qhubeka has extended beyond schools to look at other opportunities to make a positive and tangible difference in the communities that we operate in,” she said.

“Through this donation we hope to not only mobilise South African communities, but help ensure a better future for all who live in the country."