Sam Cowen series: The State of the City #JHB2015

Sam has decided to highlight the key points made by Mayor Parks Tau, in his State of the City address; his main aim is to 're-claim the city' and to help Johannesburg become a working city again.

Operation Fiyela

The JMPD's Wayne Minaar joined Sam to talk about 'Operation Fiyela' - started in response to the recent Xenophobic attacks. In partnership with the JMPD, Home Affairs, the SAPS and the Army, the operation was planned around known hot spots - based on information give to the police.

In response to Sam's question about the raid on the Central Methodist Church, Minaar had this to say.

There has been a lot of bugging in the area adjacent to the church and there has also been information of concerns that criminals have been hiding in the church. We included that location as one of the hotspots in Operation Fiyela. The church itself has good intentions to provide space, but there were also crimnals who took advantage of the situation and used the opportunity to commit crime

Wayne Minaar

Listen to the full interview here:

Housing

Sam spoke to Patrick Phophi, Executive Director of Housing in Johannesburg, for the City of Joburg about the challenges that the Department of Housing is facing, the shortfalls of the past and the plans to improve things in South Africa.

In his speech, Mayor Parks Tau remarked that Government has built 12 500 housing units and 1 000 quality social housing and rentals places. According to Mr Phophi, this has been the case since 2011 to date, and the social housing and rental units have been up since the last financial period.

Sam made the point that that figure was a drop in the ocean...

The number is more than that, as more have been built with our private partners. The number will increase between now and the next financial period; the number will increase to 20000. We will integrate communities and accommodate everyone, so that they can afford it. It is about building communities and that the City is part of what we have planed.

Patrick Phophi

Another issue with housing, is that people tend to set up settlements close to where they work.

The corridors of freedom are going to bring people closer to where they work. We are negotiating with land owners, so that we can accommodate everyone to live closer to where they work.

Patrick Phophi

The City of Johannesburg also intends on building more accommodation for students to live closer to where they study.

Many listeners showed concern over the tenders awarded to build these developments and then these Companies don't complete the work.

Whoever we award Tenders to have to give us three financial audited statements, and letters of guarantee for them to be able to give comfort to the city that they can perform. We don't take them likely. we do check them and assess them to make sure they are in good order. we don't pay in advance and don't pay for work not done. We charge them penalties for work not done. There is no way we will pay for work not done.

Patrick Phophi

To listen to the full interview - click the link:

Electricity

Another major issue that was highlighted in the State of the City Address, was the issue of our electricity problems in South Africa. There is major confusion surrounding the old electricity meters, pre-paid meters and the new smart meters.

Sam spoke to the Managing Director of City Power, Sicelo Xulu and established that City Power supplies about 80% of the power to the city , while Eskom balances out the rest. Xulu explained that the utility categorises their customers according to how much kilowatts they use per month; customers consuming less than 100 kilowatts per month, customers consuming above 1000 kilowatts per month, as well as businesses.

With customers consuming less than 1000 kilowatts, we will apply a speed pre-paid meter. With those consuming above 1000 kilowatts, a smart pre-paid meter will be installed. We thought we would engage with communities, like in Alex. Let's get some of the organisations in Alex to be part of the solution... and that is what we did. We had a door to door session in Alex and educated them about the importance of paying for the services. We made them aware of the importance and why meters were running so fast.

Sicelo Xulu

For the full interview, see below:

Water

Water is a major concern in our city, especially water loses, over billing and water pipe restoration. However, a real concern is with the problems with minerals and mining material creeping into our water.

Sam addressed a number of issues with the Managing Director of Johannesburg Water, Lungile Dhlamini.

Our water is one of the top three in the world according to Global water standards. Currently the city is water tight, so there is no infiltration. We are currently talking with a private company to implement a pilot mine-shaft water purification plant. Should the pilot be successful we will treat and purify the water.

Lungile Dhlamini

Sam also referred to a headline in a local paper, that Joburg loses over R 1 billion worth of water...

When you look at water losses you have to be careful - you have to look at the physical losses from pipes, and commercial loses, as well as water supply where we don't recover authorized unbilled consumption. For example, in Soweto, there are houses which consume water which is not metered. There are inaccuracies there and we are meeting to set the record straight.

Lungile Dhlamini

For the full interview, see below:

EcoMobility

During Transport month in October, the City of Johannesburg announced that it will be hosting an EcoMobility Festival. This will be a month-long festival in October 2015, to encourage residents in Sandton, one of the city’s busiest districts, to choose public transport, walking and cycling over private car use.

Sam spoke to the Head of this event, Sipho Nhlapo of the City of Johannesburg, who further explained that certain streets in Sandton; namely Rivonia Road, Fredman Drive and 5th Street will be closed off, to encourage people to walk or cycle through these streets in Sandton.

We want a city were walking, cycling and public transport is part of the city, is part of the mode of transport in the city. We want people to experience how easy it is to navigate this space.

Sipho Nhlapo

The major concerns for this project is firstly, how businesses in the area will be affected, whether there will be concessions for disabled people and while there will be park and ride services for people to park their cars and acces public transport to the areas, will there be proper security in those park and ride areas?

Mr Nhlapo reassured the listeners that businesses will not be affected and that there will be continginceny plans for businesses and for disabled people. There will also be a security presence for those using the Park and Ride facilities.

The festival is a way in saying goodbye to bad Sandton, in the way of congestion, and to see how you can interact with this space without a car.

Sipho Nhlapo

To listen to the full interview, see below:

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