NMBM bicycle unit grinds to a halt in Bay

2019-11-20 06:02
The 2018 Qhubeka Bicycle Distribution at the launch in Port Elizabeth.   Photo:Carli-Ann Furno

The 2018 Qhubeka Bicycle Distribution at the launch in Port Elizabeth. Photo:Carli-Ann Furno

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THE Bay’s anti-crime bicycle unit, which was meant to employ 50 residents, has been non-operational since December last year.

This after a total of R142 500 was spent by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) to deploy the ambassadors to act as peace officers in the Bay.

Initially, the unit focused on the 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship route and the Port Elizabeth beach front; however, the programme was supposed to continue running in the Bay after the Ironman championship.

According to municipal spokesperson, Kupido Baron, after consultations with the Safety and Security Directorate, the NMBM was unfortunately not able to retain the unit.

“This was due to lack of budget. Also, bad behaviour and habits by the ambassadors were reported during the programme by the Metro Police supervisor, including no-shows and armed fights,” Baron said.

Last year, the Qhubeka bicycle ambassadors programme, funded by the NMBM and Volkswagen SA, appointed 50 new city ambassadors.

The additional 50 bicycles from Volkswagen SA were said to be distributed to 30 beach officers and 20 tourism ambassadors. According to Ian Mills, regional manager for Qhubeka, the programme is run by the NMBM and they are responsible for its continuous operation.

“Qhubeka, and its funding partners, supplied the bicycles to the project and this supply of bicycles is dependent on continuous and regular funding. Right now Qhubeka is not in the position to fund any further bicycles into this project.”

The programme was aimed at empowering the community to support and protect tourists, visitors and cyclists through bicycle patrols, and in the process to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

Baron said the city ambassadors’ contract was a ‘deliverable’ for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in 2018 aligned to the main contract.

He said, “The discussions were to retain the ambassadors through other municipal departments subject to further discussions pertaining budget and work criteria linked to the mandate of that department. However, that did not bear fruit thus far.”

The roles of the ambassadors included:

. Visible bicycle patrols along the route;

. Restore confidence on the safety of cyclists;

. Stimulate interest in cycling as a sport for both leisure and competition;

. Impart bike mechanic skills to the community members;

. Promote cycling as a mode of transport across NMBM;

. Align the programme into existing neighbourhood watches, thus creating a sense of security in communities.

Baron said that the bicycles had been earmarked for future cycling projects to be rolled out by the NMBM.

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