With his youngest son in tow, 63-year-old Joseph Kgomongwe carefully parked his 1977 Volvo De Lux in the parking lot and, with a set of documents clutched under his arm, briskly made his way into the packed hall of the Meadowlands Welfare Centre in Soweto to register his family’s business, Phirima Pavings, for the Jozi@Work Programme.
By so doing, the Dobsonville father of five was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the eight painful years that he endured without a reliable and steady income would soon be a thing of the past.
Kgomongwe spent his entire working life in the construction industry, leading a team of pavers at a multinational company. One of the projects the company undertook was a massive paving project at the Gold Reef City Casino in Booysens, Johannesburg.
“After 28 years, the company experienced some problems and we were laid off. Given the experience I had, I did odd jobs in the townships and, in the process, involved my son, Tumelo – to equip him with the necessary skills. He now understands the business, hence our decision to register it for Jozi@Work. We’re grateful to the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg [Cllr Parks Tau] for coming up with such a brilliant idea,” he said.
Kgomongwe was one of more than 400 people who visited the centre to register their cooperatives or small businesses hoping to get a slice of the R1 billion programme initiated by the city to create business and work opportunities for thousands of unemployed in Johannesburg.
The programme is also aimed at lessening the severity of poverty and inequality.
“The idea is to reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment,” says Citizen Relationship and Urban Management Officer Zanele Molete.
“We provide a platform for communities to respond to the problems in their own backyards,” she says.
The City has also put a support system in place. The Capability Support Agent (CSA) was established to assist the newly formed entities with issues such as invoicing and payment of suppliers, where required. It also ensures that the quality of service provided is of high standard.
The work packages include:
Energy: This is work linked to electrical grids, electricity distribution and the provision of electrical assistance;
Greening services: This involves greening and landscaping, including grass cutting, planting of trees and maintenance of turf and plant life in parks and open spaces;
Construction and maintenance services: This involves construction and repair work and maintenance of the city’s buildings and facilities;
Road and transport infrastructure: This relates to the construction and maintenance of new roads, cycle lanes and work on the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit system;
Water and sanitation: This involves all activities linked to expenditure on water and sewerage maintenance and reticulation; and
ICT and digital services: This involves work linked to digital and computer systems, including support of ICT operations and maintenance of digital networks.