Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire (Pty) Ltd, (Bakwena), supports a number of Community Disaster Management teams along the N1N4 route as part of its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) program. These teams consist of volunteers from various districts along the route who have been trained in partnership with the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) to respond to injuries and disasters within their communities. They have helped in the past with floods, elections and conflict with non-nationals. They also engage in social projects relevant to their communities after being trained in First Aid up to Level 3, Home-based Care, Peer Education and Disaster Preparedness.
With COVID-19 being declared a pandemic in South Africa, a group of volunteers from the Hammanskraal area underwent training on the virus, provided by the Tshwane branch of the South African Red Cross Society. The training started with the group leaders on 21 March and they in turn trained others. Training included information on what the virus is, how it affects a person, what you should do to avoid contracting/transmitting the virus, social distancing information as well as what to do if you think you may have been infected. Educational tools in the form of handout material, masks and sanitisers were all made available to the volunteers to enable them to go out safely into the community and engage with residents in their areas, to share information. These handouts were supplied by the SARCS after approval from the National Department of Health, the World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
This team has already been active in business areas, clinics, shopping centres and SASSA payout points in Hammanskraal (Remotse, Jubilee Mall and Hammanskraal Shopping Complex) thereby ensuring that community members understand and adhere to social distancing measures and also
disseminating material about the virus.
According to Mr Johannes Sibiya, Manager of the Tshwane Branch of the SARCS most people haveresponded well to the volunteers, since most of these volunteers are part of the same communities. Communities did not adhere to the lockdown regulations and people seem to find it difficult to adhere to social distancing. Continued support is needed for the volunteer programme such a protective gear, sanitiser, transport and other logistical support.
“With the help of the Tshwane District Health, we have started training volunteers in tracing of contacts,” says Sibiya, “which will be a great help in reaching people who may have been in contact with an affected person. This training also equips them with skills to address any stigma and discrimination levelled at affected persons”
This Bakwena project aims to create a culture of volunteerism in communities along the corridor, mainly by imparting skills to respond to injuries and disasters.
“These volunteers play a vital role in their communities by educating the young and old to understand the seriousness of COVID-19 and good hygiene habits, as well as assisting the vulnerable members of the community. Their positive attitude and enthusiasm in responding to this pandemic is inspiring and we have no doubt they will make a meaningful difference in the lives of members living in these communities” says Solomon Kganyago, Bakwena’s Commercial Manager.
“Our programmes have had a meaningful impact on many aspects of the lives of people in communities around the route that we operate. Bakwena is committed to road safety and the well- being of communities along the N1N4 route, we also focus on other initiatives that will bring positive change in communities’ day-to-day lives that will deliver long term benefits. From informative programmes to educating children on road safety, to programmes raising awareness for the environment and our heritage, we believe that we have the responsibility as a business not only to build, maintain and operate effective national roads, but also to improve the lives of the people living along these routes.” concludes Kganyago.