The eastern Johannesburg suburb of Bruma, along with its neighbouring suburbs, will enter a cleaner, greener era in the first quarter of 2016, with the transformation of Bruma Lake almost complete.

What was, less than two years ago, a heavily polluted artificial lake whose stench permeated the entire neighbourhood, is now a naturally flowing watercourse surrounded on both sides by newly established floodplains and recreational parkland.

The reclaimed land has been landscaped to create a new public parkThe reclaimed land alongside the river has been extensively landscaped to create a new public recreational park. (Photo by Elias Nkabinde – CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)All that remains to done is for the pedestrian bridge that now passes over the reconstituted section of the Jukskei River to be rehabilitated – work which is currently under way.

The City is also holding off the opening of the new park alongside the river in order to allow the newly landscaped grass to become properly established.

The R65-million upgrade and renewal project, overseen by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), commenced in June 2014. The first step was to drain the lake and allow the silt bed to dry, after which the Jukskei River was diverted from the centre of the lake to allow for construction of a new channel.

Once the new channel was complete, the bypass channel was closed, the Jukskei was redirected through the new channel, and landscaping work on the reclaimed land got under way.

The project has fully restored the river’s flow, while increasing its natural aeration and filtration by plants along the vegetated banks. Access for cleaning of debris has been improved, and ecological linkages between the upstream and downstream areas re-established.

The naturally flowing watercourse means an end to the stink of the old artificial lakeThe naturally flowing, self-sustaining new watercourse means an end to the filth and stink of the old artificial lake. (Photo by Elias Nkabinde – CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)Speaking to Bedfordview & Edenvale News last week, Nthatisi Modingoane, deputy director of communications for the City of Joburg, said the opening of the new park, originally scheduled for November-December, had been postponed in part because of the heat wave and lack of rains the city was currently experiencing.

“At this stage, the grass is vulnerable to damage should the park be opened to the public,” Modingoane said.

In addition, the rehabilitation of the pedestrian bridge still has to be completed, he told Bedfordview & Edenvale News.

“The bridge is important because it is an iconic feature of the area. It has sentimental value for most of the residents. It has been standing since the 1980s, so the originality of the bridge will be retained,” he added.

“Residents can look forward to a new, state-of-the-art park within the Bruma Lake business precinct that blends in with the surrounding business community and the public at large.”

Bruma’s new recreational park on the reconstituted banks of the Jukskei is in close proximity to Joburg’s new “Chinatown” in neighbouring Cyrildene, as well as to Eastgate Mall, one of the city’s largest shopping centres with more than two-million visitors a month.