MOSSEL BAY NEWS - The new financial year's Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) sidewalk project celebrated a new milestone this week.
The sidewalk project, now in its third year, grew substantially from taking in 27 unemployed people to now offering hope and dignity to 54 members of the community.
On Wednesday, 10 July, participants from previous years received their certificates, while the new intake was inducted at a ceremony in Extension 23's Indoor Sport Centre.
The programme aims to build sidewalks in different wards, focusing on areas such as KwaNonqaba, but in fact it is extended to the greater Mossel Bay area.
The focus is to create job opportunities by involving community members in providing municipal services to themselves, while they are being compensated for their labour. In doing so, community members participating in the programme supply manual labour while also undergoing in-service training. At the end of their employment, they are able to offer their newly acquired skills in the job market.
Shama Consultants, structural and civil engineers, are part of the programme, as implementing agents, conducting planning, construction management, resource management, providing day to day training, supervision and overall project and budget management on 11 different sites throughout the municipality each financial year.
According to Dawie Gerrits from Shama Consulting, the aim is to steadily grow the sidewalk programme to become a total upliftment project to allow those who participate to be duly proud of the areas they work and live in.
Gerrits says there is a strong drive towards offering employment to women, forced to be the breadwinners in their families.
Aphiwe Tokwana is such a woman. She is now a supervisor in the programme, where she initially started as a general worker.
Tokwana is the mother of three children aged seven, 12 and 13. She says the sidewalk programme means a lot to her.
"It feels great to now work as a supervisor." She says that despite the fact that there are many men in the team, she has no problem gaining respect.
Shaun Cloete, now also a supervisor, says he greatly enjoys having learnt new skills. Cloete was laid off after the company he worked for lost its contract with PetroSA. The sidewalk programme to him, was a Godsend.
The executive mayor of Mossel Bay, Alderman Harry Levendal, attended the event on Wednesday and handed over the certificates to each participant, commending them on their participation.
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