Three years ago Transnet Foundation set in motion projects aimed at providing infrastructure and basic services to remote rural communities through constructing centres and approaching service providers that would help deliver safety and security services, as well as social services. To date three TCCs have been erected and are fully operational in Springs, Khuma in Potchefstroom, Ireagh in Bushbuckridge while two centres in Thokoza, Emalahleni and Idondotha in KZN are under construction.
The TCCs offer services provided by the South African Police Service, Home Affairs, Municipal Council, the South African Social Security Agency and the local SMMEs. Each service provider is at the centres at least three times a week every month. There has seen a high volume of community members walking into the centres to access the services and records indicate that more than 19 500 people have been served since inception.
Economic benefits are that the public do not have to travel far to access these important services that the centres offer. Transnet Foundation Senior Manager: Container Assistance Programme, Ricky Maharaj says, “a report is being finalised that shows that an estimate of R559 916 has been the total in rand savings by the community. And because of these savings, the members are able to better provide for their families.
“Further importance is that Transnet Foundation has managed to constantly communicate the message of rail safety in these areas. We have continued to educate the masses about the dangers and the impact of cable theft. The Foundation has partnered with Transnet Freight Rail to implement level crossings programmes such as ‘back to school campaigns which are geared towards addressing rail safety,” Maharaj notes.
During rail safety campaigns which run at least four times annually per centres about 800 brochures are handed out to school kids, pedestrians and motorists. The result of this has been a substantial reduction in the number of children playing on rail tracks and overall improvement in rail awareness.
Bearing testimony to job creation through the construction of these centres is an estimate of 210 jobs that have so far been created. One of the services offered by the TCCs and SMMEs is to provide food gardens in the centres and deal with first line poverty by providing a source of food. As a result, food gardening on a micro scale has been key to temporary job creation.
Plans for the future are on the drawing board as shared by Ricky. “We are waiting for approval for a pedestrian bridge in Springs which will significantly add to rail safety. We are also looking at creating more jobs within these communities and set up permanent police contact centres. It has been positive feedback to see that crime in areas within the radius of a kilometre from the centres has reduced and in all, social problems are being better managed’’.