#NewBikeDay in Nelson Mandela Bay!

As Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) prepares to host 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, the official Hosting City is distributing 50 Qhubeka Bicycles, matched by a further 50 from Volkswagen South Africa. The bicycles are being distributed at a ceremony in front of the Port Elizabeth Town Hall, hosted by Mayor Athol Trollip.

The bicycles funded by NMBM are for 50 new city ambassadors who will act as “peace officers”. The additional 50 bicycles from Volkswagen SA will be distributed to 30 beach officers and 20 tourism ambassadors. The aim of this public private partnership is to empower the community to support and protect tourists, visitors and cyclists through bicycle patrols, and in the process to create jobs and alleviate poverty.

The community impact is a total of 100 new jobs that pay a decent monthly living wage.  Bicycle recipients have been selected based on certain criteria, including that they are aged between 18 and 35 and are unemployed.

“South Africa has high levels of youth unemployment, so we’re excited that this programme will see 100 young people trained up and kitted out as City Ambassadors, Tourist Ambassadors and Beach Officers,” says Tsatsi Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director. “Furthermore, their new bicycles will belong to them and can be used as a mode of transport.”

Phaweni explains that a bicycle mechanic has also been trained up within the community to ensure the bicycles will be well maintained in the long term, and to create an additional opportunity for a micro enterprise.

“Visible bicycle patrols along the IRONMAN route, at beaches and assisting visitors and tourists with information and hospitality will help residents, visitors, tourists, cyclists and runners to feel safer,” she says. “We also hope this programme will stimulate interest in cycling among local communities, and promote it as a mode of transport across NMBM. Our long-term hope is to create a legacy programme that can be incorporated into existing neighbourhood watches, thus creating a sense of security in communities and the general public.”

“As the Hosting City for the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, NMBM has extensive responsibilities involving planning and preparation in a wide variety of fields including upgrading of road infrastructure, communication and marketing (including ICT and community outreach), safety and security, water safety, waste management, public transport, accommodation, tourism and delivery of a sustainable legacy to the community in the context of NMBM’s responsibility for social and economic development,” explains Athol Trollip, Executive Mayor, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. “NMBM is faced with an increased challenge with the safety and security of athletes, particularly cyclists. Several proactive safety measures have been established in collaboration with South African Police (SAPS), sporting clubs representing cyclists, IRONMAN South Africa and the communities along the cycling route.”

“It is amazing to see the city come together in making every effort to secure the safety of our athletes,” says Paul Wolff, IRONMAN South Africa Director of Operations. “Safety is a top priority for us as we welcome many international athletes to our country and specifically to Nelson Mandela Bay. It is encouraging to see everybody coming together and taking ownership of the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. We are supportive of the Qhubeka initiative and are confident it will make a difference.”

“In an age where community involvement and partnerships with societal groups are increasingly being recognised as indispensable, VW’s partnership with Qhubeka has extended beyond schools to look at other opportunities to make a positive and tangible difference in the communities that we operate in,” says Meredith Kelly, Marketing Manager of Volkswagen Group South Africa. “Through this donation we hope to not only mobilise South African communities, but help ensure a better future for all who live in the country.”