R400m intermodal transport facility to change face of inner city

Artist's impression of the completed Kazerne Intermodal Transport FacilityArtist's impression of the completed Kazerne Intermodal Transport Facility, seen from the air. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

Construction is under way on a world-class intermodal transport facility which will transform the commuter environment in Johannesburg's CBD, creating a clean, safe, welcoming place for residents, commuters, tourists and investors in the heart of the inner city.

Executive Mayor Parks TauExecutive Mayor Parks Tau speaks ahead of the sod-turning. Kazerne is one of his flagship projects. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)"The regeneration of the City of Johannesburg is truly under way," Executive Mayor Parks Tau said at a sod-turning ceremony for the Kazerne Intermodal Transport Facility between Braamfontein and Newtown, just east of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, on Thursday, 7 July.

"This area has in recent years experienced a number of major investments that are turning the inner city around," Mayor Tau said. "These include the Nelson Mandela Bridge, the revitalization of Braamfontein, Newtown Park just next to us, new housing complexes and taxi facilities - and now the Kazerne Intermodal Transport Facility."

Massive transport holding and ranking capacity

The R400-million facility, the biggest intermodal facility to be developed by the City of Joburg, will accommodate long-distance and cross-border taxis and buses, providing holding space for 648 taxis, ranking space for 158 taxis, and ranking space for 20 buses.

The new facility will restore dignity to the taxi industryThe new facility will restore dignity to the taxi industry and its users, says Mayor Tau. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)It will also create economic opportunities with an impressive 3 100 square metres of retail space, including space for 160 stalls.

"We have over 4 000 taxis that access the inner city daily, and currently only 1 800 bays to accommodate them," Mayor Tau said. "We must address this in order to address the needs of our people", he said, noting that the majority of Joburg's residents and visitors use public transport to access services, amenities and opportunities in the city.

"In the rainy summer season, when don't want them huddling in the rain while they wait for their transport."

Restoring dignity to the taxi industry - and commuters

Executive Mayor Parks Tau prepares to turn the sodExecutive Mayor Parks Tau prepares to turn the sod on the Kazerne construction site. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)The new facility would "restore pride and dignity to an industry that plays a critical role in the movement of our people," the Mayor said, and this extended beyond the city to the country and the region - to those who coming to Johannesburg from Bulawayo, Harare and Maputo.

The new facility would thus.provide an opportunity for building stronger ties both socially and economically with other African countries.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is overseeing construction of the facility, which got under way in April and is due to be completed in February 2018.

Mayor Tau urged taxi associations and bus companies to work with the City to reach an agreement on the management of the facility upfront, "so that we can maintain this asset for the people of Johannesburg".

(Re-)introducing the underground tunnels of Joburg

The massive Kazerne construction siteThe massive Kazerne construction site, looking south-west from the Harrison Street bridge. The builders moved on site in April. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)The Mayor then revealed an intriguing additional feature of the Kazerne Intermodal Transport Facility. "It introduces us," he said, "to the underground tunnels of Johannesburg" - a network of subterranean passageways that has lain dormant for over 60 years.

The architects, he said, planned to rehabilitate some of these tunnels in order to open an underground walkway between Kazerne and Park Station, creating a seamless connection with another major transport interchange in the vicinity.

It was even possible, the architects had told Mayor Tau, to use modern technology to introduce natural light into these tunnels.

The Mayor then mused aloud on the possibilities that opened up for using an already existing infrastructure network to create connections between parts of the city that were currently only indirectly linked - and to do so in some extraordinary ways.

What if people could hang out in an inner city park that happened to be underground, he asked. There is even apparently one tunnel that goes all the way to Rosebank - which prompted the Mayor, an avid cycling fan, to imagine staging an underground cycling race in the City of Joburg.

Don't be too quick to dismiss this as fantasy. It's this kind of lateral thinking by the Mayor, among others, that has given rise to a number of ambitious projects that are now taking shape across the city. Kazerne is one of them, as are the two bridges currently being built over the M1 highway near Sandton, not to mention the Corridors of Freedom concept as a whole.

And as Development and Planning MMC Roslyn Greeff said at Thursday's sod-turning, watch this space for the next major development coming to the inner city, in the vicinity of Kazerne and Park Station: the African Food Hub.