Cooperation, careful spending, key to reshaping Joburg

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In his State of the City Address, Executive Mayor Parks Tau described Joburg as a "City at work", breaking down physical barriers to create a liveable, sustainable metropolis.

The City of Johannesburg held its annual State of the City Address at the Orlando Communal Hall in Orlando East, Soweto, on 14 April 2014.

Struggle icon, Ahmed Kathrada; councilors, Solly Mogase, Christine Walters and Ruby Mathang; Constance Bapela, Speaker of Council; and business and community members attended the address.

This year's address date marked 20 years since Nelson Mandela faced then-president, FW de Klerk, in a televised debate at the Johannesburg Civic Centre.

A City at work

soca1Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau commenced his address saying, "This is Johannesburg. Johannesburg is a city at work.

"We are a city at work, to remake itself and shape its future, as a sustainable, liveable, resilient city – a City that cares for its people and their future."

He added, "The transformation of Soweto in recent years is symbolic of what we have achieved," pointing out that the City’s investment in strategic infrastructure such as roads, and in rehabilitating public spaces - such as the Orlando West Park, Bara transport interchange and Orlando Stadium - have "changed the face of Soweto".

Corridors of Freedom

soca2Through the city's Growth and Development Strategy, Joburg 2040, the Joburg Metro, along with residents and other interested parties, is shaping the City's vision.

Tau said: "Through the Corridors of Freedom, we have initiated bold steps towards a comprehensive transformation of our spatial density, and a break from our apartheid past of spatial, social and racial segregation; a past premised on prejudice and division."

He added that the primary tool in spatial transformation was spending capital funds on public transport, infrastructure, public environment upgrading and social housing.

"To boost the Corridors of Freedom, we are adopting a sector strategy and investment portfolio approach to spatial plans, zoning and release of parcels of land so that part of the R23-billion of land owned by the City is used to catalyse economic development," he said.

Tau cited the Empire-Perth corridor as an example of the City's cooperative approach, saying it is working actively with communities and partners, such as the University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand, to improve safety and attractiveness along the streets; to create a safe student and retail precinct at Campus Square; to improve the urban environment in Auckland Park; and to improve the public environment in Westbury.

Tau added: "Along the Louis Botha Corridor we are working on similar partnerships in Wynberg, Marlboro and Orange Grove/Norwood. In addition we are introducing Rea Vaya infrastructure to be followed by investment in schools, clinics and a range of housing options."

In a significant move to improve access to information, the City has also installed free Wi-Fi at nine Rea Vaya bus stations, and at the Orlando Communal Hall. Tau said the City intended to roll out 1000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the City before the end of the mayoral term.

Joburg in good financial shape

According to Tau, the City is "financially in its best shape yet".

"With a net surplus of R3.4-billion at the end of June 2013, we continued the upward trend of increasing the City's total assets to R60.1-billion, up from R56.37-billion in 2011/12. We concluded the year with a progressive increase in cash and cash equivalents of R5.4-billion," Tau said.

He added that the capital investment in the City continues to rise significantly, saying that, "At the beginning of our term we started with a capital budget of R3.6-billion; currently it stands at R7.5-billion and is projected to grow to R10.9-billion in the next financial year."

Tau concluded his address asking attendants to "use this opportunity to reflect on the progress we as a country and a city have made over the past 20 years."