Kick-starting the formalisation of Diepsloot

Kick-starting the formalisation of DiepslootThe 150 000-strong township is one of the JDA's priority areas.

There is "brewing excitement" in the Diepsloot community following a number of developments anchored by the Ingonyama Road upgrade and extension. Elias Nkabinde reports.

A pedestrian bridge under construction in DiepslootA pedestrian bridge under construction in Diepsloot."I have been living in Diepsloot for almost two decades and it has been a long wait for these developments," says Thandi Mashaba.

The City of Joburg's development programme in Diepsloot has kick-started the formalisation of the densely populated township north of Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has implemented a number of initiatives under this programme, including the public environment upgrade of Ingonyama Road, a taxi rank upgrade, and the construction of two pedestrian bridges along with commuter links between the bridges and Ingonyama Road.

"These upgrades are not just beneficial for all the residents in this community but are also helping in altering the image of Diepsloot," says Mashaba.

Established in1994 as a relocation area for informally settled households from Zevenfontein, Diepsloot now houses an estimated 150 000 people living in over 24 000 informal dwellings.

Covering 5.2 square kilometres on the northern edge of the metropolitan council area, about 20 kilometres north of Sandton, Diepsloot suffers from high levels of poverty and underdevelopment, and has been identified as a priority area by the JDA.

Towards a viable, integrated human settlement

Ward 95 Councillor Rodgers MakhubeleWard 95 Councillor Rodgers MakhubeleThe agency's development programme aims to establish Diepsloot as a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable human settlement that is spatially integrated into the City of Johannesburg, with access to basic services and opportunities for social mobility and economic development.

Ward 95 Councillor Rodgers Makhubele says the development of the area has been innovative, especially when one considers that Diepsloot only came into being 20 years ago.

"Since the implementation of the JDA's Ingonyama link road extension on behalf of the City of Johannesburg, the community of Diepsloot has been undergoing an expanding and improving period," says Makhubele. "Several housing developments, infrastructure and road upgrades have seen a kick-start in the formalisation of the area."

The response, says Makhubele, has been overwhelmingly positive.

"There is a brewing excitement in the community. The taxi rank built by the JDA and the Department of Transport has helped empower locals, who now run various small businesses at stalls in the taxi rank. This has greatly contributed to Diepsloot's economic development."

Instilling confidence in property investors

Diepsloot ParkDiepsloot Park forms part of the public environment upgrade of the area.The JDA's Ingonyama link road extension has achieved the further objective of instilling confidence in property investors, by demonstrating a public commitment to making the area work in economic terms.

Martha Malope, a local resident and stall owner at Diepsloot Mall, says the ongoing developments are raising living standards in the area. "Diepsloot is a community that has come a long way, and all we can do is hope and pray is that these developments continue," Malope says. "Being able to run a stall that is close in the mall has helped me sustain my family. I am happy with the progress that is happening in the area."

Despite this progress, the JDA is mindful of the work still required in order to realise the area's full development potential.

Priority interventions earmarked for implementation in the medium term include the delivery of road and pedestrian infrastructure to improve mobility in Diepsloot - in particular the completion of the Ingonyama Street upgrade and the construction of two river-crossing pedestrian bridges - as well as investment in public spaces in the Government Precinct in Diepsloot West.