City tour operators updated on new developments

City tour operators updated on new developmentsA new 60-metre pedestrian bridge under construction along the Old Pretoria Road close to Diepsloot

The JDA gives the city's tour operators their own tour of the latest upgrades and developments in the inner city, Diepsloot and Soweto.

New tarred roads and paved walkways form part of the Diepsloot upgradesNew tarred roads and paved walkways form part of the Diepsloot upgradesAs part of a drive to improve the image of the city, tour operators were given an insight into the Johannesburg Development Agency's (JDA's) latest developments across the metropolis on Friday, 26 September.

The tour, led by the JDA's manager of internal communications and special projects, Alice Moloto, started at Joburg's Fashion Kapitol, the fashion hub of Africa.

Africa's fashion hub

The tour operators were given a brief background of the Fashion Kapitol’s first public outdoor fashion ramp, incorporating about 26 blocks on the eastern edge of the CBD  bordered by Market, Kerk, Von Weilligh and End streets.

The district, which boasts more than 300 fashion-related micro-businesses, including seamstresses and tailors from across southern Africa, is expected to take its place alongside international capitals such as New York's Fashion Avenue in the near future.

Ingonyama Street, Diepsloot

Raymond Rampolokeng, the owner of Bay of Grace tours, checks out the green cycle lane along the Ingonyama Street in DiepslootRaymond Rampolokeng, the owner of Bay of Grace tours, checks out the green cycle lane along the Ingonyama Street in DiepslootFrom Fashion Kapitol the delegation proceeded north to Diepsloot where there were met by Abel Stols, a consulting engineer with Nlanganani Projects, who showed them the latest upgrades along Ingonyama Street, as well as a 60-metre bridge that will connect development nodes in the area.

Previously a gravel road, Ingonyama Street has been undergoing a major revamp, and is now tarred with paved walkways, street furniture, trader's structures, street lights and a storm water drain. The street is expected to open for public use soon.

For the tour operators, the biggest attraction was the new cycle lane, demarcated by a green colour. Stols explained that the concept, aimed at improving visibility and safety, had been borrowed from Canada.

Jabulani Mall, Walter Sisulu Square

From Diepsloot the delegation proceeded to Jabulani Mall in Soweto, where they were shown the latest upgrades, including new walkways, street furniture and artwork.

They also made a stop at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, where JDA Development Manager Jocelyn Davids explained that a lot of work would be done ahead of next year's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter.

"Kliptown is a prominent place that needs a lot of attention," Davids said. "We are still facing challenges of vandalism and theft that need to be addressed."

The group's final stop was in Nancefield, where they were shown the new street furniture, bollards and walkways linking Soweto residents to Maponya Mall.

Maponya Mall is within walking distance of both the Kliptown tourism precinct and the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus, and a few minutes' drive from the Hector Pieterson Museum and Vilakazi Street tourism precinct.

Ambassadors for the city

Moloto concluded by encouraging the tour operators to be ambassadors for the city by informing visitors about the upgrades. "I hope you will take this knowledge to everyone whom you will come across," she said.

Raymond Rampolokeng, the owner of Bay of Grace Tours, described the tour as an eye-opener. "JDA has been able to achieve a lot despite the challenges that go with mega projects," he said.

Another tour operator, Ottair Rambau, said he was impressed with the way the JDA had packaged their information.

"It was a good and informative tour. I least now have an idea of what's happening around the city," said Rambau, added that he would start including Diepsloot in his tour offerings.