November 03, 2007

JOHANNESBURG MAKEOVER: The big spend begins

With Johannesburg planning its multi-billion-rand overhaul over the next decade, the need to boost essential infrastructure services has become even more urgent. As one of the host cities for the 2010 soccer World Cup, the city has earmarked about R1,7bn in investments over the next three years.

The longer-term planning to match bulk water, power and waste infrastructure with the expected property developments along the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, will begin only next year, says Peter Coetzee, director of the infrastructure & services department at the city council. But he adds that some of the 2010 projects he is tasked with executing will be supportive of the investment which will follow the launch of the BRT.

Coetzee says ensuring there is sufficient power supply to areas such as Sandton and Rosebank, where many of the 2010 visitors will be staying, is a priority. The city council has a relatively modest budget for delivering new bulk services such as water, power and waste management (both landfill and waste water). At present that budget varies between R3bn and R4bn/ year, but this excludes the contributions property developers have to pay when they build new projects.

Phil Harrison, director of infrastructure planning & urban management, says the council will have to spend its infrastructure allocation far more strategically in future. He says if property developers want improved bulk services, they will have to invest mostly in areas targeted by the city’s infrastructure drive.

In order to implement the most critical of the projects for 2010, says Coetzee, Jo’burg has already secured R345m from national treasury and a further R200m from the city’s coffers to be spent between now and the soccer Confederations Cup in mid-2009. (The event is being used by some host cities as the warm-up event to gauge their preparedness for the real thing in 2010.)

Of this, R44m will be spent on upgrading water supply, sewers will get R11m and waste removal R73m. The city will also be buying 10 mechanical street sweepers for R20m to keep the streets clean. City Power will be spending R165m on upgrading the electricity distribution network.

“These are essential investments if we are to avoid any serious negative backlash during the hosting of 2010,” Coetzee says. Though these projects are not specifically focused on the BRT- and Gautrain-related development, Coetzee adds they will support the increased property development along BRT routes and Gautrain stations.


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