A R1.7-million pedestrian pathway project in the coastal resort town of St Francis Bay has proved a hit with the community, reducing incidents of crime on residents walking to and from work while upskilling previously unemployed youths and women from the area.
Before the new pathway linking the community of Sea Vista with the St Francis Bay CBD was built, the preferred pedestrian route into St Francis Bay was an often dangerous, bare earth track through the industrial area, which became muddy when it rained.
The need for the 800m engineered pathway – which also features CCTV, lighting, landscaping, and mosaic art – was identified by the Kouga Wind Farm Community Development Trust, an Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) funded initiative, for the benefit of local communities who were consulted and included throughout the project. The trust has a 26% stake in the Kouga Wind Farm and uses its share of the project’s profits to fund socio-economic and small business development projects, such as the pathway.
Local pizza chef Siyamthanda Adams, who lives in Sea Vista, said she used the path to walk to and from work – often returning late at night after her shift at Pizza @ 167 in St Francis Bay ended.
“The challenges which Sea Vista residents faced before the new path was built included being mugged and attacked en route to and from town, because the informal path was dark and surrounded by trees. It was really not safe,” she said.
“But ever since the new pathway has been developed, it has been much safer. There is even seating along the path where pedestrians can sit and rest when they come from the village. The beautiful mosaics are another luxury on their own.
“It’s now a pleasure to go to the village and we are not scared anymore. The Kouga Wind Farm Trust has done a great job indeed and we will be forever grateful.”
Project manager Nigel Aitken said the need for a pathway was identified at a police sector meeting where problems with the informal pathway were highlighted.
“It was dangerous, not only because people were being mugged, but also because the path gets muddy when it rains and people slip,” he said.
“The community was involved every step of the way, including adding their own final touches to the artwork and landscaping that decorates the pathway.”
Kouga Wind Farm Trust trustee Maijang Mpherwane, who represents the IDC – a part funder of the Kouga Wind Farm – said: “We aim to use projects like this to provide a base upon which government and other corporates can build on, to address the various needs that exist within the communities we serve.”
As part of the project’s aim to harness local talent, civil engineering student Lesedi Marota was appointed as trainee project manager.
“It was a great foundation for my technical experience, and I can apply the experience I gained in the future,” he said. “Furthermore, eight members of the Sea Vista community who were employed for the duration of the project acquired a number of new technical skills that they can now draw on going forward.”
Aside from making the daily commute safer for residents, the initiative also helped to upskill local women as part of a community art project. The women were taught how to create mosaic art based on the winning designs submitted by local children. More than 200 entries were received from children of all ages – from tiny tots to high school learners.
The selected artworks were converted into long-lasting mosaic tile designs, placed along the pathway for all – including the young artists – to see and enjoy.
Marota said: “It is beautiful to look at but the main objective of the project was safety, as there had been a number of attacks in the area. This objective has definitely been achieved.”