THE Johannesburg Development Agency has undertaken several public upgrades in the Soweto suburb of Orlando East, on the narrow strip of land between the police station, train station, post office and clinic, near Orlando Stadium.

According to Thanduxolo Ntoyi, the JDA’s assistant development manager, upgrades have been carried out on public parking, which includes the installation of kerbs, asphalt surfacing, paving and street lighting.

Ntoyi says the agency has also upgraded the public environment by installing street furniture, paving walkways, landscaping and erecting a basketball court. “The public parking is on the main road along Mooki Street.”

He says once upgrades are complete, the area “will serve as a social, friendly environment for the community to relax”. Designated a public square, the area has been developed as the first phase of the Orlando East Station precinct upgrade.

The upgrades are being undertaken during the current financial year and construction will span five months. About R9-million has been set aside for the work, which is expected to be completed in 2012.

It is part of the JDA’s 2010/2011 four township developments, the others being Kliptown, Orange Farm and Diepsloot.

Work in Kliptown started some years ago, in November 2001, when Blue IQ, an agency of the Gauteng department of economic development, appointed the JDA to oversee the building of two large structures flanking Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication.

About R180-million was allocated for this project, and the square comprises a hotel, museum, conference and tourism information centre, business support centre and shops. A taxi rank was also built, as well as a park; Klipspruit Valley Road, which links Kliptown with the highway; and basement parking.

Another project, Stretford Station in Orange Farm, was earmarked for development as a public transport and economic hub, which will stimulate economic and social investment in the area.

Joburg’s development programme for Diepsloot proposes that the area be established as a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable settlement. It should be spatially integrated into the city and have access to basic services and opportunities for social mobility and economic development.

Low income housing and infrastructure upgrades, including the rolling out of water, sewage and electricity services, is ongoing.

These four areas have been classified as district nodes in the City’s Regional Spatial Development Framework, which seeks to address easy access and interconnected pedestrian movement.

The JDA’s 2030 vision of the Orlando East public square comprises a pedestrian street, Rea Vaya bus stations, a piazza lined with ground-floor shops linking to the station square, and the clinic, police station, post office and other amenities.

Work has been done as part of the Orlando East Station Precinct Urban Design Framework, which looks at development, urban design and transport in a bid to promote the construction of a compact, pedestrian-friendly environment.