Green transport system powers Cape Town’s employment

CEO of Green Riders, Craig Atkinson, at a graduation ceremony of a group of 100 riders. Picture: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

CEO of Green Riders, Craig Atkinson, at a graduation ceremony of a group of 100 riders. Picture: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 5, 2023


Cape Town: With rising unemployment in South Africa, a pioneering company in micro-mobility has trained the youth in an effort to address the challenge.

Statistics show that young people aged between 15 and 34 years old were the most vulnerable in the South African labour market.

Green Riders, a company that offers eco-friendly transport solutions, aims to change the situation by providing an opportunity to empower the youth and “create a sustainable livelihood” for themselves and their families through e-bicycles in the last-mile delivery system.

At a graduation ceremony held in Cape Town this week, more than 100 young people who participated in the programme were showcased.

They had completed a three-month training programme equipping them with skills needed in the last-mile delivery industry.

Executive chairperson Richard Clarke said the organisation’s main objective was to transform micro-mobility in South Africa.

“We will employ thousands of young South African men and women over the next few years, substantially improving their lives and enabling them to support their families and contribute meaningfully to their communities,” he said.

Youth from various areas around Cape Town graduated from a programme teaching them skills and equipping them to safely operate and grow in business by using e-cyles to deliver parcels in the communities. Picture: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

CEO Craig Atkinson said: “In an era where 75% of transportation comprises non-motorised vehicles, there is a glaring lack of safe infrastructure like dedicated and separated cycling lanes to support these individuals. We are committed to transforming this reality, ensuring equitable access to safe and efficient transportation for all.”

Atkinson also noted that only 33% of South Africans had their own private vehicles and with the rising fuel costs and lack of job opportunities, the number might not change significantly.

Atkinson said the government should be focusing on creating better infrastructure for micro-mobility solutions.

“They should be looking at countries like the Netherlands where the government is eliminating private vehicle usage in cities, introducing more micro-mobility solutions, and improving the infrastructure for this. By replicating this model in South Africa, everyone could enjoy travelling between townships, suburbs and their places of work with quicker, safer and greener modes of transport.”

Green Riders have partnered with not-for-profits such as Young Urbanists and the Active Mobility Forum through the Supplier Development Initiative (SDI) Trust to help with the infrastructure deficit through the Safe Passage Programme.

The programme, endorsed by the Mayor’s Office, will see a safe route being constructed between Langa and the Cape Town central business district.

“The first stage of the Langa Safe Passage will happen later this year with bollards being earmarked for existing cycling lanes like Albert to make it safe for Green Riders cycling to the CBD. These upgrades will elevate Cape Town’s existing cycling lanes (Bree and Albert) to best practices from all around the world to make it safe to cycle, not only for youth in the last-mile delivery space, but even if you are a 7- or 70-year-old that supports the City’s 2017 Cycling Strategy,” said Roland Postma, managing director of Young Urbanists.

The riders welcomed the initiative, which would also help with de-carbonising the city.

One of the Green Riders, Phakamisa Ntsikili, said: “You don’t need to worry about petrol any more. You just charge your batteries and get on the road and make money, so for us, it’s better.”

“What I enjoy most about being a rider (is that) it boosts my confidence and I’m able to deal with different kinds of people, but most important is that I’m able to do big orders and receive big money,” added Thembakazi Mavatsha.

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