Jabulani, Soweto’s up-and-coming business and cultural hub, is undergoing a transformation, with a number of transit-oriented development projects either recently completed, under way or in the pipeline in the area.

JDA development manager Nthangeni MulovhedziJDA development manager Nthangeni MulovhedziJohannesburg Development Agency (JDA) development manager Nthangeni Mulovhedzi, who is co-ordinating the agency’s projects in Jabulani, says the aim is to accelerate socio-economic development by revitalising the neighbourhood for residents, commuters, businesses and visitors.

A key enabler of the City’s Joburg 2040 vision, transit-oriented development (TOD) seeks to establish vibrant, liveable communities living in compact, walkable neighbourhoods centered on high-quality transport systems.

“TOD is an approach that is very focused on improving quality of life within a precinct that is well-located for access to transport, amenities, shopping and employment,” says Mulovhedzi.

The Soweto TheatreThe upgraded public environment surrounding the Soweto Theatre.Jabulani could not be better placed for such development. Located in the heart of Soweto, the suburb’s status as a township business hub was confirmed in 2006 with the opening of the R320-million Jabulani Mall. This was followed by the opening of the state-of-the-art Soweto Theatre in 2012, and the 300-bed Zola-Jabulani District Hospital in 2014.

The suburb is served by a train station and by Rea Vaya’s bus rapid transit (BRT) network.

Over R150-million has been spent on TOD projects in Jabulani to date, including the recently completed road that links Bolani and Koma roads. Construction was co-ordinated by the JDA and included a “complete street” redesign to ease pedestrian and public transport access in the area.

Road upgrades under way in JabulaniRoad widening, accompanied by the creation of new pedestrian and cycling lanes, under way in Jabulani.Construction work on the road that will link Inhlanzane train station to Bolani and Koma roads is in progress, and will involve upgrades of both road infrastructure and the surrounding public environment.

This will be followed over the next three years by the construction of a new sports and recreation complex, as well as further public transport facilities, dedicated cycle lanes, walkways and traffic calming features.

“Jabulani will be a safer environment that priotises foot traffic and caters for transport infrastructure,” says Mulovhedzi. “This is a huge opportunity for everyone. Attractive development around transit can add to the positive aspects of the transit experience.”

Property developers are already showing an interest in the projects, he says, and are looking to start new residential and commercial developments in the area.

“Our goal is to connect Jabulani to the Joburg CBD, as well as to promote local culture in the precinct.”