Durban — The City has embarked on a skills empowerment drive to equip waste pickers and other community members with much-needed skills, says eThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
He was addressing waste pickers during an imbizo held in Buffelsdraai on Saturday.
Kaunda said he was pleased with the City’s commencement of the process of profiling waste pickers in the Buffelsdraai area.
The process would culminate in the establishment of a community recycling programme in the next six months. The municipality was engaged in talks with private companies that would help facilitate the implementation of the programme of empowering the community with skills.
He said he was keeping the promise he made to the waste pickers during their last engagement – that he would return to Buffelsdraai to give feedback on the issues raised by the community following the closure of the landfill site. This was after 17 waste pickers were shot at by security personnel while going about their business at the landfill site in July, with one of the pickers fatally wounded.
Kaunda said the initiative was meant to also assist in keeping the community clean and address the challenges of illegal dumping.
“About 40 young people will be recruited for three months to clean the area and clear illegal dumping sites. We have also commenced with establishing a waste segregation site in the vicinity of the landfill site.”
Kaunda said those who were no longer interested in waste picking had been assisted to form agricultural co-operatives.
Other issues raised by the community were that many pickers were homeless and making their living from the landfill site.
As part of the City’s intervention, 22 homeless people are undergoing rehabilitation programmes in various health institutions and they will be channelled through various skills development programmes.
Those who have qualifications will be enrolled in the municipality’s work readiness programme and receive monthly stipends.
“We have also profiled young people who dropped out of tertiary institutions and they will be assisted to secure financial aid to further their studies.
“We commend the Department of Social Development for coming on board to assist indigent families through providing food vouchers.”
Ward 59 councillor Nkosiyezwe Mhlongo said: “We aim at helping uplift the youth with skills, so that they can start co-ops and other entrepreneurial enterprises.”
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.