Athletes, spectators and locals can be assured of a safe 2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Port Elizabeth in September.
In addition to routine security, 100 unemployed locals will guard the streets on sponsored bikes. All racked up and ready to patrol candidates were put through a series of tests to ensure they are suitable for the job.
They have to be between the ages of 18 and 35, be relatively fit and be able to ride a bike and come from wards that border the Ironman route.
Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Mayor Athol Trollip says, “I think it’s an extraordinary programme. Safety and security is one of the main pillars we want to be a safe city. We have now incorporated these young people to come on board and to become part of our safety network. We have identified tourism and sports tourism as one of our greatest initiatives to create jobs for young people and unemployment is the greatest problem in Nelson Mandela bay so 100 extra people earning extra money taking that money home. I think that’s greatly significant.”
A number of athletes have been attacked in recent years.
Managing Director Ironman SA Keith Bowler says, “I think this type of programme is not just going to help the Ironman athletes that are coming to the event, but it’s going to help every single tourist and also athletes that come into our city to utilize our beautiful resources in our city.”
The cycle safety officers will be easily identifiable in sponsored outfits.
One resident says, “It’s a great job because we will be on the lookout for the community and the tourists coming to SA for the Ironman.”
“It means a lot to me because as a city ambassador it shows that I am capable of cleansing my city as well,” says another resident.
This safety in numbers programme will run until December.