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Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development (SEID)

Retired freight containers get a new lease on life to deliver services to most outlying rural communities. Our Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development programme has refocused its efforts on safety and security, building police stations. Cognisant of the environment, the conversion not only ensures that such infrastructure offers much needed social services to a community, but that it is also aesthetically and environmentally friendly. The presence of containerised infrastructure can be seen and felt from the remote Village of Perth in Kgalagadi, to the Vhembe District in the Limpopo Province.

Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development Programme

It was South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, who said, “Regional and continental infrastructure development is of fundamental importance to the realisation of Africa’s economic growth and development imperatives.”

The Transnet Foundation has heeded this call through the development of our Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development (SEID) Portfolio, which transforms old freight containers into custom-made secure buildings to meet the needs of under-resourced communities. SEID has already benefited more than 120 000 people, with the construction of over 30 structures. 

“Not only are the containers recycled and given new life, but people no longer have to travel great distances to find secure infrastructure. Resourcefulness can mean the difference between living with hope or despair, and between contentment or the lack thereof,” says Transnet Foundation Head, Cynthia Mgijima.

Our partnership with the South African Police Service to erect satellite police stations in areas critically impacted by crime, or where security services are lacking, has made a significant difference in these communities. As have the containers utilised in rural areas to address social and health needs, which have created a stable community environment where the youth can dream of a brighter future.

“We have invested over R27 million into the programme since 2001 and have built 19 satellite police stations and 14 multi-purpose centres. Added to this, 27 000 jobs have been created. We aim to meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Mgijima explains.

How Does it Work?

Our Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development programme is a creative solution to address the shortage of infrastructure and service delivery in rural communities. The containers can be erected within a short space of time, are mobile and very versatile hence securing a market niche in infrastructure development.

On average, a total of five containers are used to put in place a containerised centre. The Foundation partners with the Transnet Freight Rail and Transnet Rail Engineering operating divisions for the conversion of containers, thereby using the vast resource base in Transnet (SOC) Limited to the benefit of social responsibility. During the construction of such infrastructure, all efforts are made to ensure that it does not have a negative impact on the environment, and that the end product is an attractive landmark in the community.

SEID Community Services

Social Services

A variety of social services are rendered at the containerised multipurpose centres. These range from poverty alleviation projects, social grants access points, to HIV/AIDS support services. To ensure the sustainability of such centres, they are planned and implemented in partnership with Provincial Departments of Social Development.

Centres are generally staffed by a social worker and a development worker, as well as a security official. A range of professional services are thus introduced to communities where, because of a lack of infrastructure, none existed before. Access to such community support goes a long way towards creating a stable community environment.

Safety and Security Services

The Containerised Programme also assists the South African Police Services (SAPS) with setting up containerised satellite police stations to combat crime. The impact on safety, security and social development has been significant in the target areas. Crime is being much better managed in over forty communities throughout the country where such stations are in place.

The guiding principles of the Socio-Economic Infrastructure Development portfolio are:

  • To contribute towards the economic growth of a community by providing much needed infra-structure resources;
  • To ensure that the infra-structure addresses the safety and security needs of the target communities;
  • To ensure compliance with safety, health and environmental policies of Transnet and the regulatory environment; and
  • To engage in strategic partnerships with Government for the co-planning of projects so as to leverage resources and ensure sustainability.

Past Projects

We partnered with the South African Police Services (SAPS) in Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal and provided the station on-site with a much-needed extension of five containerised offices. This station serves over 30 000 people in a high crime zone consisting of 14 rural villages. Their new offices now house 22 police officers, seven of whom are new appointments made possible by our containerised extension to their station.

A similar partnership with the Department of Social Development used refurbished containers to build a R1.1-million multi-purpose centre that now provides a whole range of social services to the needy communities around Nkomazi in Mpumalanga. Before the erection of this multi-purpose centre, the community would have had to travel over 60 kilometres to Tonga and Shongwe for basic social services.

The newly built multi-purpose centre provides immediate access to four full-time staff and 15 voluntary social workers, trauma counselling and welfare grant application assistance. This centre also houses the Mgobodzi Home-Based care Project, which provides services to orphans and those suffering from HIV/Aids.