It’s Time to Take Back the City!
“I am inspired and fuelled with passion by the many people who support my vision of changing the status quo.”– Herman Mashaba
Johannesburg’s Inner City has become the centre of economic activity in the Metropolitan area due to regeneration efforts led by the private sector over the last two decades.
Four hundred thousand people reside in the area, and about 1,000,000 people pass through the Inner City every day. It is also a host to many thriving small and micro businesses and local retailers who service mainly the lower income segment.
After the establishment of South Africa’s democracy, new residents from faraway townships moved into the Inner City. Some of these in-migrants squatted in abandoned buildings, high crime rates and lack of service delivery characterised the area and investment fled. The Inner city slowly became a slum characterised by poor living conditions, lack of basic services, high crime and general lawlessness.
Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba outlined his vision for the Inner City In a recent interview:
“One of the promises I made to the residents of this city was to eradicate corruption and to ensure that service delivery is a reality in accordance with good governance, principles. Ironically, working towards this commitment has simultaneously become the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of my work. However, I am inspired and fuelled with passion by the many people who support my vision of changing the status quo.
The Inner City is about to transform into a construction site. Watch this space. My capable team has identified 500 derelict buildings (80 of which belong to the City) that will be used to develop student accommodation, provide small business enterprise space and offer affordable accommodation. The private sector will be an integral partner in making this happen, and the Johannesburg Property Company will assist us to expropriate some buildings for our intended use. We are primarily focussing on abandoned buildings, condemned buildings, and hijacked buildings. Johannesburg is the melting pot of the continent, and thousands of people migrate from all corners of the world to make a living here.
The challenge of urban migration is one of global concern and we need to respond to the responsibility with the rule of law as a prime consideration.
The theory introduces an interesting strategy to combatting crime. I am always looking for solutions to ensuring the safety of our residents. With that said, I remain committed to fighting crime at every opportunity. I have been clear, lawlessness isn’t something that I tolerate or will preside over.”
The following nodes have been identified for development:
- Carlton Precinct: Johannesburg’s tallest building attracts tourists and will be undergoing a revamp; Sky Rink TV and a film studio are being developed and a conference centre is planned.
- Park Station: will become an intermodal node catering for cars, buses, rail commuters and taxis and will be the Gautrain link to OR Tambo International Airport catering for a wide variety of users.
- Central park: JDA has worked on greening the area and wants the park to be a symbol of the successful city. Communities will be engaged and involved in the parks.
- Doornfontein/Ellis Park railroad corridoris earmarked for a retail hub and student village.
- Fordsburgwill be developed to deliver an interior design focus. More offices and accommodation can be built.
Newtown will become a cultural precinct to cater to students and university departments with specialised offices and spaces.
- Hillbrow, Berea, Parktown, Bellvue, Yeoville will be improved with the creation of new public open spaces and provide opportunities for office and hotel developments.
Credit and thanks to Max Katz – Interview with the Mayor Global Africa Network – Article dated 22 August 2017
by Greg Branford