The City of Johannesburg realised the value of the adage that “long term solutions require immediate action” early on. The Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2040 is the city’s roadmap towards realising a truly developed and sustainable city for its residents to live work and play. By recognising that immediate action is required for a successful long-term development and sustainability strategy, the city drew on its unique and dynamic characteristics to shape the very same strategy.
Trevor Fowler, the city manager of Johannesburg, says the city has always recognised the value of a long-term plan for development and the GDS 2040 is continuation of a strategy that was in place several years back. “There was the GDS 2030 which integrated a number of processes. The GDS 2040 draws on the National Development Plan and aligns many of our initiatives with the strategy unpacked in the national plan,” says Fowler. He adds that some of the matters that were considered in the strategy were key issues that the city felt it needed to address, if it was going to meet its growth potential.
In this respect addressing environmental concerns was one of the foremost challenges. As a result the City reviewed its landfill sites and realised that within a few years Johannesburg will be without access to landfill sites. It was also determined that for a City developed in the 1880s, with its attendant ageing infrastructure challenges, the supply of high quality water has thus far been very good, but that this supply would soon be placed under pressure, therefore water saving measures had to be put in place.
Fowler says most recently, the pressure on the electricity supply in 2008, refocused importance on an adequate electricity supply for the city’s development. “Related to these issues is the burden of air pollution, and given that South Africa is the 13th largest emitter of carbon in the world, it is inevitable that our environment will be affected,” notes Fowler.
Income inequality among the residents is another important issue in the GDS 2040. Because of the apartheid system, the city’s poorest people are located in the four extreme corners of the metropolis. While this reflects the inefficient and ineffective planning of a separatist state system, it has also created a negative legacy that stands in the way of creating an efficient and effective city. Fowler elaborates, “This scenario has created an unequal society with Johannesburg being the most unequal in terms of income in South Africa and this rate is even higher than the country’s as a whole! The rate of inequality has risen over the years, literally making Johannesburg’s problems South Africa’s problems.”
Coupled with an unequal society is the issue of food security for the city where, Fowler notes, studies reveal that, “42% of the poorest people, who make up about 20% of the total (city’s) population, are food insecure and on average spend 2-3 days a month without food.” This and other issues informed the roadmap for the GDS 2040.
Roadmap for Development
Faced with such long-term challenges, Fowler says they could not afford to wait as these required immediate action. The result was the GDS 2040, which was to be implemented in 10 year phases, and further broken down into Five Year Plans. “We developed an approach on how to tackle the issues identified; therefore for the first decade we are dealing with the issue of waste minimisation through a Waste Minimisation Programme, aimed at reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill sites by 93%,” he reveals.
He adds that by 2016 the city would have achieved between 15% and 20% waste minimisation through pilot programme areas in Zola, Ivory Park, Diepsloot and other areas where the intention is to separate waste at source, into what is recyclable, organic waste (that can be turned into compost) and other waste that has to be disposed of through incineration, or in other ways, to reduce waste. The initiative is in full swing with the City already looking at establishing buy-back centres and implementing all these plans.
The City aims to reduce its water losses by about 10% by 2016; the long-term objective is to reduce overall water loss to 15%. When it reaches this milestone, the City will be at par with some of the best cities in the developed world. As an area with abundant summer rainfall, the City intends to make use of storm water harvesting to increase its water supply. Energy and water are constant headaches for many a South African metropolis. But the City is dealing with these issues the smart way, reveals Fowler. Smart meters, which have been introduced in some parts of the city, are the way for the future. Residents have the opportunity to have a smart meter that does its own readings or a prepaid smart meter where they have control over what they use. Pressure controlled devices are being introduced to cut water losses during the night or when a tap is not being used.
In 2012 the City kicked off it’s, ‘The City Where No-one Goes Hungry’ programme aimed at dealing with food insecurity problems the City’s poor citizens deal with on a regular basis. In partnership with the Gauteng province and other stakeholders the City hopes to make a significant long-term impact. The poor spend about 65% of their income on food as they are traditionally located on the peripheries of the city, without easy access to shopping malls, where informal traders and spaza shops thrive by selling basic foodstuffs at exorbitant prices.
To try and address many imbalances simultaneously, the city introduced and is implementing the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) also known as Rea Vaya. This has been a success story for the City! The BRT exceeded its targets during its first phases of implementation and now, reveals Fowler; it is going to be rolled out to several other routes. The main intention is to invest along corridors and not in the townships to address the patterns created by the former system.
As far as revenue is concerned, the city is doing well. Fowler says that expenditure will increase; in the region of more than R100 billion over the next ten years as the city is at a point where it is liquid. This is also thanks to the investments the city made in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the BRT which are paying off. “Our massive spending on those projects had a counter cyclical effect on the City’s economy, such that we only experienced the recession in the latter part of the cycle,” Fowler elaborates. Because of increased expenditure on projects in the next few years, the City will start reaching even more of its deliverables under the development strategy.
Community Based Planning
On the governance front, the city has introduced Community Based Planning which allows people to understand the amount of money spent in their wards. Currently, the focus is on capital projects and the long-term intention is for citizens to have a full grasp of all the operational costs undertaken by the City. In order to give the City’s community a voice in its future developments, meetings with the community and business were held before the drafting of its strategy. These were extensive consultations across the city to have the residents’ input. However, as the strategy unfolds and various programmes, such as the minimisation of waste at source, are implemented, on-going engagement with the community is required.
As a result the city is constantly engaged in educational drives on, not only waste minimisation, but disaster management. There may be greater floods and droughts due to climate change and the City is putting in place early warning mechanisms so that the residents are better equipped to handle these and the city is ready. Fowler adds that this is the best way to get people to understand not to do things that are dangerous.
A Smart and Safe City
The city is shortly going to roll out ‘The Smart and Safe City Initiative’ where analytics and closed circuit television (CCTV) camera systems are going to be used to predict where crime is going to occur. Parks Tau, the mayor of the city of Johannesburg, announced the JMPD (Johannesburg Metro Police Department) Ten Plus programme for every ward, which includes environmental health and building inspectors. All these, including liquor and planning personnel and processes, will be located at ward level.
Coupled with this is the Visible Service Delivery Programme which has seen the restructuring of the entire city’s management to respond to the objectives of the GDS 2040. “We are launching our Service Delivery Charter which will stipulate the level of service and response times that our clients can expect from us,” says the City manager. “We may set ourselves a target of, say, making sure that we fix reported potholes in a maximum of three days. The city may not yet be on three days, but that is the target, we want to achieve!” he firmly states. It goes without saying, Fowler notes, that, as Visible Service Delivery is about people, engagements with the city’s major stakeholder, the residents, will rigorously occur in every region, every step of the way. However, public engagement is only one mechanism towards achieving Visible Service Delivery.
There are a number of active partnerships the City has to realise its objectives for the strategy. One of the notable ones, according to Fowler, is The Inner City Charter which is essentially a partnership with the community for inner-city revival. Businesses have come to join forces for a developed and sustainable city. While there are challenges regarding these partnerships, they are easily outweighed by the successes. Of note is that the City is laying fibre optic cables to connect all its buildings via broadband. “More importantly, the City will only use a small percentage of that as the rest will be made available to small businesses and anyone who wants to tap into it,” Fowler says. He estimates that, at a peak period, between itself and the educational institutions, they are likely to use only 25% of the broadband. In effect, this means that the City will achieve triple-pronged results. While lowering the gap in the digital divide, it will be allowing for cheaper communication costs in the city and creating a more accessible network!
As partnerships are a vital approach to addressing service delivery, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are necessary allies when it comes to disaster management. Fowler reveals that the City is fostering and strengthening relationships with organisations that provide relief to distressed people and plans are afoot to have more shelters around the City to accommodate the homeless.
Creating an Environment for Prosperity
Fowler points out that the seemingly routine gesture to invest in cleaning and greening the environment has made the City an important investment destination. He cites the example of Soweto, where former mayor Amos Masondo embarked on a drive to plant trees, tar the roads, put pavements in place, install street lights and establish parks. As a consequence of that campaign, there was 60 000m² of commercial space in 2007. Fast forward that same area to 2012 and there is 220 000m²! “Most importantly, in our recent valuations, we discovered that the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses that were valued at only R60 000 five years ago now stand at a whooping R200 000 per house,” says Fowler. This shows how that particular market has developed and evolved; as people now improve their properties and use them to secure loans for commercial purposes.
Investing and Re-industrialising Jozi
Buy, Sell and Invest is a programme aimed at encouraging investors from all over the world to come and invest in Johannesburg. The city is focusing on reducing red tape and improving its economic infrastructure. Fowler notes that about 35% of the total expenditure under the GDS 2040 will be dedicated to the re-industrialisation of the city by 2020. This means improving the freeways, creating access on the corridors and investing in industrial space which will also entail creating safer industrial environments. “By re-industrialising the City, we hope to get the whole country back on re-industrialising as that has been a problem for quite some time now,” reveals Fowler. He adds that this is necessary for a city whose population levels are growing rapidly. Forty five percent of the City’s tourists are from Africa and this aptly makes Johannesburg the gateway into the continent with the bulk of the shipments entering South Africa through the Durban port being cleared in Johannesburg.
Another feather in the City’s cap, Fowler mentions, is that in a world where fresh produce markets have lost favour, the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market is the largest fresh produce market in the world. Technologically, the city is investing a lot of money to ensure that it remains one of the best in terms of checking quality and having state-of-the-art laboratories. With the City going all out on all fronts to revitalise Johannesburg for its citizens and future generations, there can be no doubt that it is steadily marching on towards achieving its objectives. The Growth and Development Strategy, building on a legacy of success, is the locomotive progressively headed for a developed and sustainable City that will be the pride of South Africa and a world-class City on African soil by 2040.
Building on a Legacy of Success
Despite a tough global economic climate, the City of Johannesburg has made significant achievements during the 2011/12 financial year. More than 98% of the residents of Johannesburg can now open a tap to receive clean and the highest quality drinking water. Nine out of ten residents have reliable electricity at the flick of a switch while 91% benefit from top level sanitation services and regular refuse removal services are reaching more than 90% of all households. These are not mere statistics but evidence of a city that is intent on building a legacy of success for its residents and all this in just the first decade of democratic local governance!
STATE YOUR CASE | City of Johannesburg
by Andrew Ngozo