Safe new walkway a boost for Sea Vista community

St Francis Bay pizza chef Siyamthanda Adams says the new R1.7m pathway linking St Francis and the Sea Vista community has changed the lives of Sea Vista residents
MAKING LIFE EASIER: St Francis Bay pizza chef Siyamthanda Adams says the new R1.7m pathway linking St Francis and the Sea Vista community has changed the lives of Sea Vista residents

A R1.7m pedestrian pathway project in the coastal resort town of St Francis Bay has proved a hit with the community, reducing incidents of crime on residents walking to and from work while upskilling previously unemployed youths and women from the area.

Before the new pathway linking the community of Sea Vista with the St Francis Bay CBD was built, the preferred pedestrian route into St Francis Bay was an often dangerous, bare-earth track through the industrial area, which became muddy when it rained.

The need for the 800m engineered pathway — which also features CCTV, lighting, landscaping and mosaic art — was identified by the Kouga Wind Farm Community Development Trust, an Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) funded initiative, for the benefit of local communities who were consulted and included throughout the project.

The trust has a 26% stake in the Kouga Wind Farm and uses its share of the project’s profits to fund socio-economic and small business development projects, such as the pathway.

Pizza chef Siyamthanda Adams, who lives in Sea Vista, said she used the path to walk to and from work — often returning late at night after her shift.

“The challenges Sea Vista residents faced before the new path was built included being mugged and attacked en route to and from town, because the informal path was dark and surrounded by trees.

“It was really not safe,” she said.

“But ever since the new pathway has been developed, it has been much safer.

“There is even seating along the path where pedestrians can sit and rest when they come from the village.

“The beautiful mosaics are another luxury on their own.

“It’s now a pleasure to go to the village and we are not scared any more,” Adams said.

Project manager Nigel Aitken said the need for a pathway was identified at a police sector meeting.

“It was dangerous, not only because people were being mugged, but also because the path gets muddy when it rains and people slip,” he said.

“The community was involved every step of the way, including adding their own final touches to the artwork and landscaping that decorate the pathway.”

Kouga Wind Farm Trust trustee Maijang Mpherwane, who represents the IDC — a part funder of the Kouga Wind Farm — said: “We aim to use projects like this to provide a base on which government and other corporates can build, to address the various needs that exist within the communities we serve.”

As part of the project’s aim to harness local talent, civil engineering student Lesedi Marota was appointed as trainee project manager.

“It was a great foundation for my technical experience and I can apply the experience I gained in the future.

“Furthermore, eight members of the Sea Vista community who were employed for the duration of the project acquired a number of new technical skills that they can now draw on going forward,” Marota said.

The initiative also helped upskill women as part of a community art project.

They were taught how to create mosaic art based on winning designs submitted by local children.

More than 200 entries were received from children of all ages — from tiny tots to high school pupils.

The selected artworks were converted into long-lasting mosaic tile designs placed along the pathway for all — including the young artists — to see and enjoy.

- HeraldLIVE

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