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The mayor lead a delegation of his mayoral committee on a trip round Soweto, stopping in Fleurhof and Orlando to check on developments.
CITY officials were mesmerised by the rapid transformation at Orlando eKhaya in Soweto, and the possible opportunities that could be tapped.

MMC for finance Parks TauMMC for finance Parks Tau shows his bricklaying skills at the launch of the Fleurhof housing developmentThey were on a tour of the area on Saturday, 16 April. They set off from Metro Centre in Braamfontein, where members of the mayoral committee joined Executive Mayor Amos Masondo on the trip. Orlando eKhaya was just one of the stops on the day.

The first stop was at Fleurhof, where Masondo handed over houses to residents. Fleurhof is one of the largest integrated residential housing developments in the southwest of the city. It is a joint initiative by the City and Calgro M3, and is expected to yield 6 384 homes before 2013.

At the handover, the member of the mayoral committee for finance, Parks Tau, said the project would help to break barriers created in the past. “It is a major link to critical components of our regions that will bring people closer to amenities,” said Tau.

In the past, the area was barren space used to separate communities and to act as a barrier against integration. He noted that the project would give the poor an opportunity to make locational choices in relation to where they were employed.

Masondo said the project demonstrated the City’s commitment to providing housing and other economic development opportunities to all communities across Johannesburg. “Our objective is to build better communities and it is important that any new development is supported by adequate social infrastructure to ensure healthy community life.”

He noted that the area would be an important link that would create a united and integrated Johannesburg. “Through this development, the City is filling the gap between Florida and Johannesburg which will be further enhanced with the envisaged construction of Westlake Road,” said Masondo.

The chief executive officer of Social Housing Regulatory, Brian Maholo, said 2 864 units would be used for rental purposes.

Executive mayor Amos Masondo opensExecutive mayor Amos Masondo hands over a new house to a beneficiaryBachelor units for those earning less than R3 500 a month would cost R750 per month while two-bedroomed units would cost R1 950 a month for those earning less than R7 500 per month.

Construction of the rental homes would be completed in October this year.

After the speech, the mayor and his entourage braved the drizzling weather and trudged through the mud to lay bricks for RDP houses and hand over homes. Masondo and Tau sat down briefly in the home of Innocent Chauke, one of the beneficiaries, to exchange a few pleasantries.

Chauke described the joy of owning a house for the first time in his life. “I am very happy about owning a home. At least it shows that my life is moving ahead,” Chauke told Masondo.

He had previously lived in Germiston, and had found a flat too restricting. After hearing about the Fleurhof housing development, Chauke did not waste any time in applying for a house.

“Although I am paying slightly more for this property, deep down inside I know that this is my property and I am investing in something meaningful.”

When completed Fleurhof is expected to have eight pre-school facilities, two clinics, three community centres, 30 public parks, six venues for business development and four industrial areas.

Orlando Village
The delegation proceeded to Orlando Village in Madhlala Street, Soweto to see the sub-projects of the precinct. Here they were met by Brian Hosking, Katavi’s director of operations.

Opening the Orlando Bridge (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Opening the Heroes Bridge (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)They were shown around the four show townhouse units that were completed in 2010.

Hosking told the mayor that he was experiencing resistance from financial institutions to providing finance to qualifying purchasers because of the belief that the units were over-valued for their location in Soweto.

About 1 000 high quality townhouse units will be delivered in 10 phases. The townhouses will be developed in a number of separate villages, the first consisting of 132 units. Hosking said the residential units would service the untapped middle income residential market in Soweto. Units will cost between R450 000 and R900 000 each.

“It will bring choice of a lifestyle that people had to live Soweto to achieve,” said Hosking.

The delegation was very excited about the modern units and promised to spread the word about the new development.

Hosking believes that once finished, a lot of people will move from the suburbs into the units, changing the face of Orlando eKhaya. From Madhlala Street, the delegation drove to the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus.

University of Johannesburg
Here, they toured the campus with its director, Johannes Manyaka, who pointed out the latest developments.

They saw the renovated old buildings and the new buildings, which include academic offices, computer laboratories and lecture theatres.

The main campus upgrade was completed in October 2010 and the residences in December 2010. “The community has [more] confidence in us than before,” said Manyaka.

Heroes Bridge
Leaving the university, they headed to the newly completed Heroes Bridge. Masondo was greeted by hordes of people who had braved the rainy weather to witness the opening of the bridge.

Kliptown residents at the Mayorla ImbizoKliptown residents at the Mayoral ImbizoIt was a short ceremony, drum majorettes performing the and South African Police Service belting out entertaining tunes.

The 130m-long bridge spans the outflow of the Orlando Dam and connects the suburbs of Orlando and Klipspruit. These suburbs were originally separated by the power station compound.

The bridge is named in honour of the local community heroes, Basil Zuma and Kingsley Sithole. During the celebrations, however, Tau told the gathering that the bridge celebrated all the ordinary heroes of Soweto.

“It is our responsibility in join the government in breaking the shackles of the past and creating a better life for all,” said Tau. “It is important to build a model that facilitates intervention.”

Masondo said Heroes Bridge was part of the City’s successful programme in bringing economic development to Soweto. “Soweto is a work in progress; in 10 years’ time Johannesburg will have changed fundamentally.”

Masondo added that the establishment of the bridge would bring a further surge of new development and private sector investment into Orlando and Klipspruit.

The ceremony was interrupted briefly by a group of residents who crossed over the bridge from Klipspruit holding placards on which they had written, “Thank You Masondo”.

After the speeches, the delegation walked over the bridge to celebrate its opening before hopping back on the bus.

Ending the tour, the bus headed to Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, where the mayor presented his End of Term Report to stakeholders.

In his presentation, he spoke about the developments that the City had spearheaded in the metropolis between 2006 and 2011.

Major developments that were highlighted in the presentation included road infrastructure, housing delivery, health, public safety and economic development.

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