The City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) has added a thirteenth all-women road repair team to its staffing complement. The all-women team, consisting of members aged between 24 and 40 years, recently commenced with roadworks in Atlantis.
The TDA training academy, through its Women-at-Work Programme, is aiming to change the mindset that certain jobs are reserved for men only, or that women are incapable of doing what can be regarded as physically challenging work. The aim is also to empower women with skills that will enable them to apply for employment opportunities at the 18 roads depots across the city, and to assist with fixing potholes and clearing storm-water infrastructure, among other tasks.
The women were sourced from the local sub-council jobseekers database and the depot assessed and interviewed them as part of the appointment process.
‘This project plays a multi-purpose role. On the one hand, it addresses the under-representation of women in traditionally male-dominated careers, while on the other, it ensures the inclusion of the women in the economy, in particular in Atlantis where the unemployment rate is high. Some of the women who form part of the team are sole breadwinners and are bringing up their children on their own. Thus, this is a real opportunity for them to get a foot in the employment door in future,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, Councillor Brett Herron.
The women undergo on-the-job training which empowers them with skills to perform their jobs while gaining valuable experience. The training entails skills in the operation of small construction equipment, onsite safety, and best practices in road surfacing as per the requirements of the South African Road Federation.
Kashiefa Beck is a prime example of one of those women who have successfully completed training through the programme. She is now a permanent employee at the City’s roads depot in Heideveld.
‘I am so grateful to the City for providing us with the opportunity to be a part of the EPWP Women-at-Work Programme. Entering the male-dominated world was a challenge in the beginning. However, we soon got into the swing of things and learnt to handle the job and the men working in this field. I think we are more consistent, committed and determined to excel in the work usually done by men. Men can do the work, yes, but I believe that women can do an even better and more qualitative job. We are truly grateful for the permanent employment that we secured in 2016 after being part of this programme. It really had a positive impact and brought stability to our lives. I want to encourage all women to believe that nothing on the road to life is impossible. You must believe in yourself, be focused and stand firm,’ said Kashiefa.
Councillor Herron said Kashiefa must serve as an inspiration to the other women who are currently part of the 13 all-women road repair teams across Cape Town.
‘Stories like this warm my heart and spur me on to do even more for our residents. Road repair work is a skill that can be learned by anyone who has the drive and passion, irrespective of gender. A big plus is seeing some of these women absorbed in permanent employment within the City, a move that certainly helps restore dignity both in the community, as well as in their homes,’ said Councillor Herron.
The TDA’s end-goal is to have at least one all-women road repair team at each one of our 18 depots by the end of the year. This project is in line with the City’s Organisational Development and Transformational Plan which prioritises investing in programmes that will provide long-term employment to the city’s residents.