Johannesburg to invest R110 billion (US$11.9 billion) in infrastructure

May 15, 2013

Africa, Business, International

Johannesburg to invest R110 billion (US$11.9 billion) in infrastructure

Johannesburg Executive Mayor Clr Mpho Parks Tau
Speaking at the Wits University’s School of Education, Tau said that in the 2013/2014 financial year alone, the City would spend R7.3 billion (US$789.84 million) on infrastructure, a 37% increase compared with the current year’s infrastructure spend of R4.6 billion (US$497.710 million). Expenditure on the maintenance of the current infrastructure would be increased from 2.5% to more than 7% of the city’s annual budget, he said. The Executive Mayor said the new spatial master plan would “transform apartheid settlement patterns and build and vibrant middle-class environment, where everyone can feel safe”. Executive Mayor Tau said the third phase of the BRT system – which will link areas such as Alexandra and Ivory Park with Sandton and Rosebank – would be rolled out in 2016. -Source: City of Johannesburg

By South African Press Association

The City of Johannesburg has budgeted R30-billion (US$3.25 billion) for infrastructure development for the next 3 years, mayor Parks Tau said on May 9, 2013.

This would form part of an ambitious public transportation development program dubbed “freedom corridors”, he said in his state-of-the-city address.

“Over the decade, we will introduce transport corridors connecting strategic nodes through an affordable and accessible mass public transit that includes both bus and passenger rail.”

He said mixed income housing, schools, offices and community facilities would be erected along the corridors. This would eradicate previous settlement patterns, as well as slow the uncontrolled spread of informal settlements around the city.

“Johannesburg will lead in South Africa and in Africa to link transport development with high density housing and create viable, sustainable and integrated communities.”

Tau said the plan was intended to reduce the use of private cars.

“Over time we will eliminate the need for private vehicles as the city progressively moves towards an effective public transport system.”

This would help reduce carbon emissions, resulting in a healthier environment.

Tau said each resident had a right to an integrated and united city. This would be achieved by reconnecting the divisions created by apartheid, he said.

While progress had been made in fighting crime in Johannesburg, the mayor said property crime, rape and vehicle hijackings were still rampant.

“We are working to improve the safety of our streets, have more public lights and CCTV cameras in the city… .But by far the most important safety and crime prevention intervention is for communities to join the fight against crime.”

The city would continue upgrading informal settlements and hostels.

“As part of this program we will create a regulatory environment where backyard shacks are transformed to become acceptable rental accommodation.”

Tau said the roll-out of the Johannesburg broadband network would be completed by the end of May.

“The next step is to make access available to the public, integrating the network into the city’s processes and systems.”

Special economic zones would be established across Johannesburg.

“In these zones a special regulatory and planning regime will apply, covering areas such as taxation, infrastructure planning and access to services.”
Out with apartheid settlements,in with ‘Corridors of Freedom’

City of Johannesburg

This new spatial development vision, which is in line with the City’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040), was unveiled by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Clr Mpho Parks Tau during his State of the City Address at the Linder Auditorium at the Wits University on Thursday last week.

Clr Tau said the shape of the future city would involve the creation of well-planned transport arteries or “Corridors of Freedom” linked to interchanges where the focus would be on mixed-use development – high-density accommodation supported by office buildings, retail development and opportunities for leisure and recreation.

The Executive Mayor said the “Corridors of Freedom”, as these developments are affectionately known, would transform entrenched settlement patterns, which had shunted the majority of residents to the outskirts of the city, away from economic opportunities and access to jobs and growth.

Early developments will be funded under the R110 billion (US$11.9 billion) infrastructure development program announced by the Executive Mayor.

“For too long our city continues to be shaped by our apartheid past. It is still divided between rich and poor areas, white and black areas, townships and suburbs. Black people in the main continue to live far from their workplaces and have to travel long distances to reach their places of work, school, leisure, and so on. The ‘Corridors of Power’ will give our residents increased freedom of movement as well as economic freedom – liberating them from apartheid spatial legacy characterized,” he said.

Because the developments are along transport corridors, the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system will enable fast, safe and affordable mobility along the corridors.

Integrated city
TOD will create a united and unified Johannesburg and “change [apartheid’s] entrenched settlement patterns”.

“It will also slow down the process of urban sprawl and the uncontrolled spread of low-density developments on the fringes of the city. Such developments raise the cost of providing infrastructure and services and its residents are entirely dependent on private transport,” Clr said.

The new transport corridors will create high-density developments and establish urban environments that mix residential space with office accommodation and retail, leisure and recreational opportunities.

Schools, clinics and amenities will be located in close proximity to the residences.

Effective public transport system

A critical part of TOD is an effective and efficient public transport system, complete with cycling lanes and pedestrian walkways – a move that will lead to a significant reduction in the use of private vehicles.

Clr Tau said this move would not only change traffic patterns but that it would also reduce traveling time and cut down on noxious carbon emissions.

He said the “Corridors of Freedom” would eliminate the need for private car usage.

“People will be able to walk or cycle to most destinations and amenities because they would be located close to their homes. The urban design will strongly encourage this move from private car usage. Streets and sidewalks will be designed to facilitate the use of bicycles and safety measures will create an amenable environment for pedestrians,” he said.

He said parking along the streets would be limited and that traffic calming measures would make it extremely difficult for private vehicles to enter the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

Improvement of social fabric
The move towards TOD would not only open up a new set of opportunities for residents but it would also improve the social fabric, Clr Tau said.

“For the average Joburger, the option to live closer to the core of the city and to make use of an improved transport system will be a life-changing affair.

“Gone will be the days of being forced to rise in the early hours of the morning to catch a train, bus or taxi to a place of work. Gone are the days of residents returning to their homes late in the evening, unable to share a meal or spend quality time with their spouses and children,” Clr Tau said.

The National Household Travel Survey conducted by Statistics South Africa in 2003 found that the average time spent between home and work for residents using public transport was 59 minutes.

More than 1.3 million South Africans spend at least two hours a day traveling between their homes and places of work.

Over and above this, they spend about 30 minutes walking towards a train station or bus stop, and waiting for the train or bus to arrive.

For people living in areas such as Diepsloot, Orange and Alexandra, this means waking up before dawn to access public transport to the Johannesburg CBD or northern suburbs and returning home well after dusk.

The survey also shows that 16.4% of Gauteng residents spend more than 20% of their monthly income on transport, leaving very little for basic necessities such as food, shelter, school fees, etc

The Executive Mayor said the “Corridors of Freedom” would reverse these trends.

“The cost of transport will be lowered, leaving households with more money to spend on food, shelter and other basic necessities,” he said.

Environmental benefits
Some of the benefits of TOD would be a cleaner environment, improved health and a better quality of life, the Executive Mayor said.

This is in line with the global leadership role the City is playing in issues relating to sustainable development and climate change, for which it has been widely recognized.

In 2014, the City will host the C40 Summit, which will bring together leaders of 59 of the world’s largest cities to discuss progress and announce new initiatives to reduce dependency on carbon-based energy and promote the use of sustainable energy sources.

Future planning in Johannesburg will contribute to the broader objective of providing a sustainable urban environment. This can be achieved through:

  • A shift to alternative fuels and new vehicle technologies;
  • Increased efficiencies and pricing strategies that will reduce traffic congestion and emissions; and
  • The restructuring of the urban form to get people out of their private cars, reduce trip numbers and encourage them to use safe, convenient and affordable public transport alternatives.

“Through TOD, Johannesburg will continue to lead South Africa towards a low-carbon economy, ensuring a sustainable future for all,” Clr Tau said.

What do you know about the Johannesburg skyline

City of Johannesburg population: 4,434,827 (2011)
Metropolitan Johannesburg population: 10.3 million

Johannesburg Skyline

Video: Johannesburg Tour



Absa Towers

Absa Towers Johannesburg

Absa, a member of Barclays, switched on the world’s largest Light Emitting Diode (LED) display.

Crowning the Absa Towers building, each of the 4 giant LED screens is almost twice the size of a basketball court (40 metres/131.2 ft long and 18 metres/59 ft high), and can be seen from a radius of up to 1.5 kilometres/nearly 1 mile from the ground and 2.5 kilometres/1.5 miles in the air.

Video: Absa | Introducing the world’s largest LED display to the Johannesburg skyline


Carlton Centre
Carlton Centre

The tallest building in Africa and once the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Construction was a lengthy process, beginning in 1967 and ending in 1974, though the centre officially opened in 1973. The centre complex was once home to the five-star, 30-story Carlton Hotel, which was popular with the rich and famous.

The Carlton Centre, which was bought by state-owned freight company Transnet in 1999, remains a popular shopping destination in central Johannesburg. It has a mix of the major retail outlets found in most shopping malls, as well as several office suites. Top of Africa remains open to those seeking an uninterrupted view of Johannesburg.
Video: Carlton Centre


Ponte City
Ponte City is a skyscraper in the Hillbrow neighborhood of Johannesburg and is the tallest residential building in Africa.

Ponte City

Ponte City

Ponte City

Ponte City

Ponte City

Written by Lucille Davie

It’s been described by some as something out of Star Wars with its unusual inner perspectives; by others as the Tower of Babel. It’s probably one of the most striking urban landmarks in southern Africa.

It’s the cylindrical Ponte City, of course, standing tall on the edge of Hillbrow’s flatlands, at 54 story. Completed in 1975, it was in its heyday one of the city’s most sought-after addresses, described by newspapers at the time as “heaven on earth”. Ponte was originally meant to be 64 floors.

Ponte offers the most spectacular city view south of the Sahara.

Ponte’s fortunes have been very much tied to its surroundings. When it was completed, Hillbrow was a popular cosmopolitan area, with pavement cafes, coffee shops, record bars and nightclubs servicing residents living in the mostly large, spacious flats that make up the dense flatlands of the suburb.

But those residents starting moving out of Hillbrow in the 1980s, along with businesses from the city centre, in an exodus to the suburbs. At the same time, towards the mid-80s, the Group Areas Act was abolished; and immigrants from west Africa started moving into Hillbrow. The demographics of the area changed, Ponte become an overcrowded, untidy block, and lost its desirable status.

Group Areas Act was passed by the apartheid Parliament of South Africa. The law mainly excluded non-Whites from living in the most developed urban residential and business areas.

Ponte is a huge hollow cylinder, with the rock it was built on still visible at the base of the cylinder, if you have the courage to stick your head out one of the upper floor windows to look down. In fact, it’s hard to focus on the bottom from the top without the roundness and depth tugging at you, almost pulling you down.

Ponte went through a period in the 1990s when it attracted criminal tenants in keeping with the general deterioration of conditions in Hillbrow.


Living the high life in a Ponte penthouse

Nickolaus Bauer
Mail & Guardian

In 2001, Kempston — the current owners of Ponte — managed to drag the building back from oblivion. Their cleanup led to a safe, low-cost living space boasting a 97% occupancy.

Then, in 2007, developers David Selvan and Noor Addine Ayyoub arrived on the scene with big plans. They wanted to transform Ponte into luxury sectional-title apartments, and they went ahead knocking out and stripping floors 11 to 34, and moving 1,500 residents out as they began renovations. But the pair’s lofty ambitions came crashing down in little more than a year, and several contractors, as well as a handful of investors, were all left out of pocket. Kempston took back the building in 2009, beginning its own refurbishment — a process that lasted a little more than 2 years.

Video: Ponte Tower -Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa


Video: Gautrain


Video: Buses ease the jams in Johannesburg

Video: Morning Traffic Johannesburg


Video: Law and Disorder in Johannesburg | BBC Documentary


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