SACN report celebrates progress, admits challenges in cities
SACN report celebrates progress, admits challenges in cities

The City of Johannesburg was making significant progress in reversing apartheid spatial planning through its Corridors of Freedom flagship programme, Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau said on Wednesday June 22.

Speaking shortly after the release of the 2016 South African Cities Network (SACN) Report in Johannesburg, Mayor Tau said the City had invested billions of rands through the Corridors of Freedom to restitch the city, reconfigure its spatial development and fast track residents’ mobility.

The 2016 SACN report says apartheid spatial design produced inefficient cities that suffer from sprawl and spatially entrenched segregation. Consequently, poor communities live on the edge of the city, away from economic, social and educational opportunities and therefore spend a disproportionately high share of their disposable income (and time) on transport.

The City of Johannesburg’s Corridors of Freedoms have been designed precisely to undo these anomalies.

Executive Mayor Tau said the City’s network of the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the backbone of the Corridors of Freedom, was currently undergoing massive expansion.

“We’re expanding our public transport network, in particular our flagship BRT system, within the City of Johannesburg. We have been building new networks along the Louis Botha Corridor to develop the infrastructure. We’re also working on the highway bridge over the M1 next to Marlboro that will link Louis Botha to Sandton, which is where our next phase of the BRT will be,” Mayor Tau said. 

He said the City would also expand the BRT network into the western region of Johannesburg.

“But the reality is that these are long-term investments by municipalities and long-term investments require resources. We’re putting our money where our mouths are in investing in infrastructure for mobility and accessibility in our city,” said Tau.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Andries Nel said spatial challenges had long been in the government’s radar and had given rise to the Integrated Urban Development Framework adopted in April.

“This report also highlights the areas of challenges we need to address. It highlights the many achievements, and how far the cities have come in the past five financial years. Having good financial management is important for our cities to be able to use public resources and taxpayers’ money in the most effective way,” he said.

According to the report, a culmination of years of research and analysis focused on the country’s cities and what makes them work, more Johannesburg households – about 90.7% – have access to piped water. There have in the past five years also been fewer people living below the poverty line.

With as many as 10 000 immigrants flocking to the City every month, Johannesburg has been under pressure to provide services at an increased rate. The SACN report also shows that Johannesburg’s economy has grown rapidly. However, unemployment has remained at 26.3% since 2011.