The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is ramping up its efforts to curtail crime against cyclists, particularly along the Ironman route, by training ambassadors who will protect cyclists, starting from next month.
The partnership between the city ambassadors programme and non-profit organisation Qhubeka Charity will see 50 unemployed young people from Walmer township trained as cyclists to be hired by the metro through the extended public works programme.
The initiative is set to run from the build-up of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and beyond.
The plan follows several violent attacks and robberies on cyclists over the past year, the most recent one against Mandela Bay Development Agency spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi, who was mugged last month.
Details of the programme were unveiled at yesterday’s mayoral committee meeting.
Sports, recreation, arts and culture portfolio chairwoman Siyasanga Sijadu said the initiative was aimed at ensuring that Walmer township residents benefited from the spectacle in September.
She said Qhubeka Charity rewarded individuals who did positive deeds in their respective communities by giving them bicycles as a means of transport.
“When we sat as a committee and thought about the Ironman world championships, we decided that it was important people from around the Walmer Gqeberha benefit from the upcoming championships,” Sijadu said.
“Who knows the area more than people who live in it?
“To have a meaningful impact by imparting skills and training, this is a great initiative in that it will give young people from around the area access not only to bicycles but they will acquire a lifelong skill.”
Sijadu said the 50 young people being trained as ambassadors would also act as peace officers by ensuring that safety measures were in place along the route.
“This proves that we are committed to ensuring there are opportunities in disadvantaged areas,” Sijadu said.
In a report tabled to the mayoral committee yesterday, sports, recreation, arts and culture executive director Noxolo Nqwazi wrote that the safety and security department would ensure the safety of the ambassadors.
“The traffic and training centre will provide training [including] first aid and customer care to recruited ambassadors,” she said.
“The metro police will assist in the management and monitoring of the programme through allocating patrolling shifts along the routes; linking the shifts to the safety and security systems; the deployment and debriefing of ambassadors on a daily basis; and back-up support to ambassadors through existing vehicle patrols.
“At this point their bicycle skills have been tested, and peace officer training has been done.”
Nqwazi said they had so far secured about 30 ambassadors and were searching for 20 more.
She said the project would continue after the world event.