Community Participation Model for the Re-Electrification of Railways in South Africa and its possible impact on Youth Unemployment
This paper looks at Community Participation (CP) in large infrastructure projects particularly in South Africa directed at the South African rail network. In recent years there has been increased theft of railway infrastructure including the rail track equipment and overhead equipment. This paper firstly looks at the definition of the term CP and its importa nce especially when considering the current trends of youth unemployment, inequality and poverty in the region. Secondly the paper looks at the possible reasons for the theft of the rail infrastructure and possible areas of community involvement. Thirdly the paper looks at possible ways in which unemployed artisans, technicians and engineers could be involved in the re-electrification of the network which is defunct in some regions of the country. The author also considered the reasons why community members would participate in activities related crime, vandalism and destruction when they would possibly need to be transported by the same rail network at relatively cheaper costs (as opposed to minibus taxis and public busses) and added convenience. The general public is also aware of the movement of supplies (foods and products) and commodities which are transported by freight rail and form an integral part of the national rail network. The paper also looks at the brief history of community participation in general with some references within the country and from the USA and then looks at approaches used in India where CP in the rail network is encouraged. Focus is then directed towards possible CP implementation in the South Africa rail network. Later, a pragmatic model of CP is proposed for the re-electrification of the South African rail network, hoping that such a model could be used to impact youth unemployment with regards artisans, technicians and engineers who are currently in need of practical work experience and related job opportunities. Finally, recommendations are proposed to extend the scope of CP with a view to include some planning and design aspects of projects that with the help of the higher education and TVET sector could possibly reduce the negative impacts of youth unemployment.
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