Johannesburg - The City of Joburg has launched a R1 billion scheme to create employment and to speed up service delivery and maintenance around the city’s 11 regions.

The scheme, [email protected], is expected to create some 12 500 permanent jobs through the creation of co-operatives and small businesses.

Neighbours and friends, small and micro entrepreneurs, in both higher-income and impoverished areas, can get together to pitch for city business through a simplified and streamlined process. They will work for the city’s utilities and agencies such as the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Pikitup, City Power and Joburg Water and do jobs such as separating and recycling of waste, providing food for the urban nutrition programmes, desludging chemical toilets, resurfacing and maintaining roads and providing frontline support to water and power infrastructure agencies.

In launching the project last week, the city’s municipal manager Trevor Fowler said that in the first year, it was expected 12 500 permanent jobs would be created, with the number tripling in the next phase.

[email protected] would change the way in the which the city did business, he said. “Our residents will no longer only be customers and recipients of city services - they will also be suppliers of these services. It will mean better value for money for residents and receiving faster and more attentive services,” he said.

A new supply chain process has been developed in consultation with the Treasury, through which the city would source community-based enterprises and co-operatives through regional bidders.

Fowler said this would mean taking the traditional approach to SMMEs to a whole new level.

“We want to spread the net as widely as possible, reaching the large number of residents who are looking for opportunities to earn an income by doing an honest day’s work,” he said.

Capability support agents will be appointed to provide oversight and mentoring to ensure quality standards are adhered to. These agents will ensure that the providers will be able to buy the raw material they need, and rent equipment.

They will recover the costs from monthly contract payments from the city as targets are met.

The first regional forum meetings are to start in the first week of next month following a public education programme which takes place this month.

Longer-term support for the new companies will also include capital financing, advisory services, and training on how to run their businesses who will, in time, be able to do business with other public sector institutions and the private sector.

The city intends to start an apprenticeship programme for workers to improve their skills.

Service delivery will be more localised, resulting in better turnaround times and improved levels of accountability. Both high-income and poor communities would benefit, said Fowler.

“With some 800 000 unemployed work-seeking adults in the city failing to secure a livelihood, we believe this project could go a long way in decreasing this number,” he said.

[email protected]

The Star