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We need heritage sites in Sophiatown, IDP meeting told Print E-mail
13 April 2017

The City of Johannesburg’s Region B is one of a few with the least number of service delivery challenges. It is also a region with a fast-paced population growth, low crime rate, relatively high levels of development and growing urbanisation trends, mainly as a result of an increasing student population.

This emerged from a presentation by Acting Regional Director Monwabisi Siwedi during an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) public consultation session at Marks Park Sporting Club in Emmarentia on Tuesday April 11.

“Region B is a place of contrasts. It stretches from poor suburbs of Brixton, Westbury and Langlaagte to affluent middle- and upper-income ones, such as Florida, Cresta, Randburg and Rosebank. Within its borders lie Wits University and the University of Johannesburg,” said Siwedi.

He said the region’s economic base was modern, aimed at serving the future.  “It offers many opportunities for growth and extension for the investor and developer.”

The IDP meeting was attended by scores of residents from suburbs such as Linden, Northcliff, Melville, Claremont, Randburg, Parkhurst and Greymont.

The City was represented by, among others, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development Cllr Sharon Peetz, Council Speaker Cllr Vasco da Gama and councillors from various wards.

However, it is not all hunky dory in the region, as it soon became evident when residents started making their contributions to the 2017-2018 IDP document.

Some of the challenges raised by residents included the shortage of accommodation, especially for students, mainly because of the rapid growth of Wits University, University of Johannesburg and other tertiary institutions.

“There are more students than there is accommodation. Homeowners end up renting out their houses and cottages. As a result, many property owners take advantage of the students’ plight and crowd them in inhumane conditions for profit,” said a resident.

“These infringements are quite problematic and result in the overuse of water and electricity supplies.”

Other problems raised during the meeting included the lack of pavements and adequate parking spots, especially for buses and minibus taxis around the Johannesburg Zoo.

One resident complained about what he described as the “decaying state” of Zoo Lake, noise pollution, litter and high levels of vagrancy.

Residents also expressed concern about drug abuse and the lack of drug abuse rehabilitation centres. “Clinics are also few in this region. They close early during the week and are closed on weekends and public holidays,” said a resident.

Others complained about incorrect water and electricity meter readings, which they said often resulted in them being charged exorbitant amounts for services.

One resident asked for Sophiatown to be given “proper recognition”. “Sophiatown has a rich political and social history. Yet that is not evident. Go to Sophiatown today, nothing shows that it was once a home of some, if not most, of our leaders today. There’s not even a single heritage site there. I appeal to the City to escalate this concern to the provincial or national government for consideration,” he said.

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Last Updated on 13 April 2017