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The City of Johannesburg’s municipal entities (MEs) and other organs of state are pooling their resources to transform Diepsloot, a sprawling township in northern Johannesburg, into a “socially, economically and environmentally sustainable area” complete with all the necessary public amenities.

The multi-pronged, multi-million rand development programme will see entities such as the City’s Housing Department, Johannesburg Property Company, Johannesburg Water as well as power utility Eskom descending on the township, to provide a variety of services to create a modern urban environment.

For its part, the City’s Housing Department will construct 4 800 subsidised housing units for the township’s low income earners.

In a further move to eliminate the housing shortage, the Johannesburg Property Company will build an additional 6 000 to 10 000 low income housing units under the Northern Farm Project, according to Nthangeni Mulovhedzi, Development Manager at the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the City’s ME overseeing the entire project.

Johannesburg Water plans to install 300 toilets, a 25 mega-litre water reservoir and a 30mm water main to supplement the existing 40mm main in the reception area. Eskom is upgrading the Klevebank substation, where it is installing a second 40MVA transformer to provide sufficient bulk electricity supply for the new development.

Over and above this, the first phase of JDA’s public environmental upgrade project, which started in May this year, on the government node (William Nicol Avenue and Ingonyama Road intersection), has been completed at a cost of R21 million. The second phase, which will be carried out at a cost of R23 million, will be completed in March next year.

This project involves the upgrading of Ingonyama Street, the paving and kerbing of sidewalks, creation of bicycle lanes, provision of street lighting and street furniture, landscaping, the provision of roads and pedestrian infrastructure to improve mobility – including the completion of the Ingonyama Street upgrade and the construction of two pedestrian bridges across the river – investment in public spaces in the government precinct in Diepsloot West, activity street traversing in Diepsloot Extension 1 and Tanganani, and the building of a regional node at the intersection of R511 and the proposed K54.

In 2007 the City was allocated a multi-year capital grant through the National Treasury’s Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant – R10 million in 2009-2010, R26 million in 2010-2011 and R30-million in 2011-2012.

Mulovhedzi says these ongoing developments would have a significant impact on growing Diepsloot community.

Besides easing the housing shortage in the area, they would result in the alleviation of public transport problems as it would now be easier for public transport operators to access the township.

“All emergency services, including the police and fire brigades, as well as Pikitup, City Power and Johannesburg Water will have easy access to the area and provide services without interruption,” said Mulovhedzi.

“In terms of economic development, they will provide informal traders with opportunities to make a living.”

Diepsloot was established in 1994 as a relocation area for informally settled Zevenfontein residents. Situated about 30km from the Johannesburg inner city and 20km from Sandton, the area was subsequently used to accommodate residents of the Alexandra Far East Bank in 1995. Its total population is estimated at 150 000.