Newly appointed staff at the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) got a first-hand look at some of the agency’s current and historic projects during an orientation tour across the city on Friday, 8 May.

Inside Chancellor HouseJDA Communications and CSI Manager Alice Moloto chats to new members of staff in the entrance foyer of Chancellor House, where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo had their law offices in the 1950s. The building was fully restored by the JDA.The tour aimed to give new staff a sense of how the agency manages and facilitates developments efficiently and innovatively in order to help build an equitable, sustainable and resilient city.

The tour focused on three areas in particular – the inner city, Diepsloot and Soweto – where the JDA has acted as a catalyst for area-based regeneration through infrastructure investments, urban environment upgrades and the development of new nodes.

The first stop was the Westgate Station Precinct in the south-western corner of Johannesburg’s inner city, where the agency has implemented a wide range of projects.

These have included public environment upgrades in selected street blocks, the overhaul of the Westgate Taxi Rank, the construction of Rea Vaya stations, the creation of a heritage walking trail linking up with the Newtown trail, and the commissioning of a sculpture diagonally opposite Chancellor House on Fox Street.

The Ingonyama Road bridge over the Jukskei RiverConstruction in progress on the Ingonyama Road bridge across the Jukskei River in Diepsloot.The second stop of the tour was Diepsloot, a densely populated township north of Johannesburg, where the JDA is currently working on the R76-million final phase of upgrading Ingonyama Road and linking it to William Nichol Drive.

This involves the construction of a bridge across the Jukskei River, the tarring of the remaining gravel sections of the road, and associated public environment upgrades such as laying down drainage, sidewalks, cycle lanes and street lighting. Other projects undertaken in the area include a taxi rank upgrade, and the onstruction of two pedestrian bridges along with commuter links between the bridges and Ingonyama Road.

The tour ended with a visit to Kliptown, the oldest suburb in Soweto, where the JDA has allocated R20-million for refurbishing the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, the site of the signing of the Freedom Charter almost 60 years ago.

The Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in KliptownGetting the lowdown on the planned refurbishment of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown.The refurbishment project aims to turn the Square into an attractive place of work and leisure for residents, tourists, street traders, office workers and shop keepers.

29-year-old Simangaliso Hlengwa, one of the agency’s new appointees, described the tour as an exciting and very informative orientation.

“I understand now that the JDA aren’t only about implementing projects, but the JDA is about transforming the face of Johannesburg. I was stunned by the work the JDA has undertaken, especially in the Westgate Station Precinct where there are several previously neglected buildings which have been regenerated,” Hlengwa said.

“The most impressive I must say was the regeneration of the Chancellor House which once housed the law firm of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo on Fox Street.”