Community members of Heidedal, Bloemfontein, gathered on Tuesday to get details on developments of Mangaung Metro Municipality’s Integrated Public Transport Network (IPTN). A project that was meant to bring employment opportunities seems to have been overtaken by politics. This comes after plans to build a depot for the major bus system were put to a stop because of confusion over the municipal ward that should benefit from its construction.
The meeting was to be attended by residents of Ward 47, which includes a good portion of Heidedal as well as a municipal committee of the IPTN. According to Economic Freedom Fighters’ Paulnita Marais, the jobs that will be created by the bus depot are a chance for community members to uplift themselves from a cycle of unemployment and social ills.
“The community came here to see that they would be the ones who would benefit from the project. Heidedal has the highest rate of unemployment at the moment and there are problems related to drug and alcohol abuse. This is a chance for community upliftment and we were hoping that they would come here and hand over the necessary documents to the ward councillor,” said Marais.
DA Ward 47 councillor, Mokgadi Kganakga, and about 100 residents gathered at the corner of Kuscke and Perish Avenues in Ashbury where they waited in vain for members of the committee to avail themselves. “The municipality has been facilitating the whole project with the community and councillor of Ward 1. They told me that the depot is in Ward 1, but it cannot be because that ward is Batho location,” elaborated Kganakga.
Earlier this month construction on the depot located in the industrial area of New East End came to a standstill when residents of Ward 47 disputed that jobs would be given to residents of Ward 1.
Various men and women, young and old, attended the meeting to hear the fate of the project, which has been likened to bus systems in major metros such as Rea Vaya in Johannesburg and Tshwane’s A Re Yeng. “We do not mind sharing the jobs but since the depot is a Ward 47 project we should have priority and majority of jobs. It is an opportunity for us to gain long-term skills for future employment,” said Leander Paulsen.
Royston van Heerden, an ANC representative in the ward’s committee, expressed that not only workers but subcontractors involved in the project should also be from Heidedal.