Expanding our spatial knowledge: Navigating through the City

The ‘Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference’ is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The 3-day knowledge sharing event kicked off today with a Johannesburg City Challenge. Local and international conference attendees spent the afternoon of Tuesday, 04 March 2014, exploring the diverse and expansive city using the available public transport system. Delegates began the Challenge in Newtown.Each of 12 small teams of people were given a map of places to visit and challenges to complete which took them into Johannesburg inner city and the townships of Soweto, Alexandra and Diepsloot.

In addition to the well-used public modes of Joburg – minibus taxis, metro bus and foot, participants had the opportunity to use several of Johannesburg’s new public transport systems – “Rea Vaya” a bus rapid transit system operating that when completed will link the Johannesburg CBD with Braamfontein and Soweto 35km apart. The modern transport system opened in phases starting on 30 August 2009 and phase 1B of the system is now fully operational. For more information www.reavaya.org.za

Participants also used the now heavily in demand “Gautrain,” a mass rapid transit railway system in the Gauteng Province, which links 80km of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni and the OR Tambo International Airport. The Gautrain was built to relieve the traffic congestion in Johannesburg–Pretoria traffic corridor and offer commuters a viable alternative to increasingly congested road transport.

Loosely based on the television reality show “Amazing Race”, the City Challenge aimed to encourage the use of public transport. The diverse teams navigated through the city, interacting with locals and performing challenge tasks in order to claim the prize: a person spatial knowledge of the city. The main objective of the challenge was also to allow the conference participants to be able to contribute to conference discussions from a more informed base.

The conference will have 150 attendees of which 8 are from various international countries including Brazil, India, UK, Belgium, Kenya, Thailand, and additional delegates from European Union region.

The conference is hosted by South African Cities Network in partnership with the City of Joburg and the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and other partners, from 4 to 6th March 2014.

Further information on the conference, speakers and partners can be found at www.sacities.net

Pictures on the challenge are available on the South African Cities Network social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkendIn and Instagram (sacitiesnetwork; #sacncitychallenge).

About South African Cities Network

The South African Cities Network is an established network of South African cities and partners that encourages the exchange of information, experience and best practices on urban development and city management. The network is both a source of information for leadership of South Africa’s largest cities and a catalyst for debate.

It is an initiative of the Minister for Provincial and Local Government and nine of the country’s largest municipalities, in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The SACN Company is a non-profit voluntary organisation owned by and accountable to its members.

The network identifies, assembles and disseminates information that enhances the ability of decision-makers to learn from the experience of others and efficiently use their resources to build sustainable cities.About the conference

South Africa Cities Network are hosting a Spatial Transformation of Cities Conference (Johannesburg as a Laboratory) on the 5th & 6th March 2014 in Johannesburg CBD, at Turbine Hall.

The Conference will address the legacy issues, it is imperative that cities are spatially transformed and restructured. Without a clear vision and plan for the transformation of our urban built environment, it will be very difficult for cities, and South Africa as a whole, to overcome the apartheid and class division spatial legacy.

South Africa’s city space economy is a key subject of interest at present. There are a number of urban growth and development policies and strategies that underpin this interest including the National Development Plan 2030.

Contact Details:
Bomikazi Nkolongwane, Communications Specialist
Tel: 011 407 6264
Mobile: 083 242 2293
Email: bomikazi@sacities.net
Website: www.sacities.net