Mayor launches Jozi’s Inner City Roadmap
The revitalisation and rejuvenation of the Johannesburg inner city took a giant leap forward when Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau officially launched the Johannesburg Inner City Roadmap at the Turbine Hall in Newtown on Wednesday 18 June.
Mayor Tau told the gathering that the inner city would as a result of the implementation of the new strategy continue to resemble a big construction site as various infrastructure projects get off the ground to restore it to its former glory, improve the quality of life of its residents and attract new investment.
The roadmap, which he described as a statement of intent to transform the city, takes forward the work of the 2007-2012 Inner City Charter and directs it to an outcomes-based approach.
The City recently signed a R1,5-billion loan agreement with the French Development Agency to fund infrastructure projects under the Inner City Roadmap and the Corridors of Freedom programmes. At the launch of the roadmap yesterday, Mayor Tau said the new initiative provided the framework for the rollout of the Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040) in the inner city.
He said the strategy’s predecessor was an important, and sometimes frustrating, learning curve that provided crucial lessons for everyone involved.
“But we kept talking and kept analysing what had worked and what remained to be done. The result is the Johannesburg Inner City Roadmap on which today’s event focuses,” the Mayor said.
“The roadmap is our consensus view, as stakeholders, of what we have to do next, and how to do it."
Mayor Tau, who was flanked by City Manager Trevor Fowler, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Development Planning Councillor Rosslyn Greeff and members of the Region F executive, reminded the audience of his State of the City Address two months ago in which he stated that those who had not been to the inner city over the past five years would not recognise it because of the extensive work that had been done to rejuvenate and revitalise it through public and private investment.
He singled out developments at the Park Station and Hillbrow Tower precincts as examples of the success and quality of work that had been achieved.
"In other cases, notably Braamfonteim and Maboneng, we have given private developers the latitude to conduct radical makeovers of historically depressed areas," he said.
He said what was more pleasing about the latter two developments was that every international guidebook deemed them among the most interesting places to visit on the continent. Mayor Tau also noted that fast food chain Nando’s had invested R72 million in a community training centre in Lorenzville to help regenerate the suburb and its surrounding areas. To complement this, the City was putting together an Eastern Precinct Development Plan, the Mayor said.
Though pockets of challenges remained, areas once notorious for disorder, such as Noord and Von Weilligh streets, had been significantly improved. He said the new integrated CCTV camera network would improve safety and security in the area.
The Mayor said the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO) had, in conjunction with the City’s Department of Housing and the Johannesburg Development Agency, commissioned urban research company Rebel Group to analyse what drove housing rentals in the inner city.
"This is the only way we can progressively deal with the reality of housing demand in the inner city, drive out the slumlords and bring formal – and affordable – life to what many think of as bad buildings," he said.
Responding to a question from the floor, the Mayor said the City could not pretend that the inner city was clean, adding that a controlled trading environment in the area was crucial. MMC Greeff added that discussions were being held, especially with informal traders, to address the challenge.
Councillor Phineas Madishe said he was excited that the transformation vision of the inner city was turning into reality.