THE City will invest more than R100-billion in infrastructure development and upgrading in the next 10 years.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau made this announcement in his maiden state of the city address, tabled in Braamfontein on Thursday, 22 March. Tau was giving an account of the progress made in the City in the past year and charting the way forward.

He said significant strides had been made in revitalising the inner city, attracting new investment, bolstering safety and reducing crime, and in tackling urban grime and decay. Property investors had shown “a healthy appetite for buildings in central Johannesburg”.

The mayor said more people than ever before had access to basic services, including water and sanitation, electricity and waste removal. Over 30 000 households in informal settlements had access to basic water in the form of communal standpipes and over 30 000 households had access to basic sanitation.

About 98 percent of Joburg residents now had access to water and about 91 percent had sanitation. Most households had access to electricity and the indigent continued to get free basic services, including 10 kilolitres of water and 100 kilo watts per hour of electricity per month, as well as the related rebate on sanitation and rates.

Health care

On health, the mayor said the City was committed to fighting HIV and Aids and increasing awareness of the disease. It administers about 50 clinics where people can get antiretroviral treatment, testing and counselling.

He said a large proportion of the City’s population still “lived in material income deprivation”. “The extremely high levels of income inequality are indeed a cause for concern. Our partnership with provincial and national government departments, civil society and business will continue as we scale up our poverty alleviation programmes.”

The redevelopment of Soweto was probably the “microcosm of the work undertaken”. He announced that the state-of-the-art Soweto Theatre would be opened in “a few weeks. Soweto is the place to be – it has status.”

However, he cautioned against resting on laurels. “As we celebrate the progress we have made, we should not become complacent. Our progress should instead inspire us to lift the bar and become even more diligent and focused in addressing the complex challenges that face us.”

He said billing and customer services remained one of the City’s top priorities as it tried to regain the trust and confidence of its residents. The billing roadmap was designed to improve the quality of customers’ interaction with the City.

Customer services

Joburg had also made steady progress in improving customer interface, strengthening revenue collection and restoring confidence in the integrity of its billing system.

He said the council had approved “a high level institutional design to give effect to Joburg 2040”. Since its adoption, a City manager and new senior management had been appointed to enhance the City’s financial health and sustainability, administrative processes and accountability as well as the delivery of services.

The City would implement waste separation at source projects across the municipality. “We are convinced that if we mobilise communities to sort waste at a household level, this will go a long way in waste reduction and the creation of a clean city.”

Tau said the municipality had a score of flagship projects that would be spearheaded in the next financial year.