Pretoria - Residents living in Hammanskraal will no longer have to travel long distances to receive government services, thanks to the opening of the second phase of the Thusong Service Centre in their area.
The second phase of the centre, which was launched at the weekend, includes services rendered by the Departments of Home Affairs, Labour, South African Revenue Services and the Integrated Development Plan of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
The centre, which has been operational for some time, was officially launched to celebrate the benefits and positive change it has brought to people living in the community.
Launching the second phase, Gauteng MEC for Public Transport, Roads and Works, Ignatius Jacobs said the centre will further help communities to access government services without travelling about 40km to Pretoria.
"We believe that the establishment of the centre will help save money and time for villagers who used to travel long distances to acquire basic services at the city," he said.
Services that were currently available at the Hammanskraal Thusong Service Centre included a library, Skills Development services, a clinic, Metro Police, Post Office, Social Development offices and the Job Club for unemployed young people.
Mr Jacobs encouraged the youth to make use of the centre's library and the skills development centre.
"Our country is faced with the serious challenge of a skills shortage, so we are encouraging the future generation to make use of the skills development centre in order to sharpen their skills in carpentry, plumbing and other fields," he said.
Senior citizen Reverend Hans Poto, 70, told BuaNews that before the establishment of the centre, he had to travel about 20km to receive his monthly pension grants at Pyramid. However, he does not have to travel far any longer.
The Thusong Service Centre programme was initiated in 1999 with a vision to extend government services to poor and rural communities as part of social and economic transformation endeavours.
The idea behind the programme was to make quality services available in accordance with Batho Pele principles.
Its intended objective is to address historical factors limiting a citizen's ability to access government information and services, particularly in deprived and outlying areas.
One major advantage for the establishment of the centre is that communities living near them and in surrounding areas are responsible for identifying required services based on their needs.
The overall target of government is to achieve at least one Thusong Service Centre per Local Municipality by the year 2014.