New broom sweeping through Tshwane

Posted On Tuesday, 12 June 2012 11:50 Published by
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There’s a new broom sweeping through Tshwane and it has some ambitious plans. Beginning on the inside track back in April when the City corralled the Ethics Institute of SA and the South African Bureau of Standards into helping the city obtain a cleaned-up and world-class governance system.  Now on the outside, in the words of city manager, Jason Ngobeni, we want to take our city back “street by street.”

 

In essence Ngobeni’s talking about urban renewal. We’ve seen it in Jo’burg with the all the work of the Johannesburg Development Agency and we’ve seen it with Durban’s Golden Mile Beachfront restoration. Pretoria, like all South African cities has areas of decay that desperately need attention.

The main focus of the renewal is the inner city. Plans include the pedestrianisation of Paul Kruger Street from Pretoria station through to the National Zoological Gardens. Apparently the plans to do the blocks from Pretorius to Johannes Ramokhoase Streets and Church Square are imminent.

Looking at creating a kind of cultural precinct similar to the Johannesburg’s Newtown Cultural Precinct, is the Lilian Ngovi Square, ideally suited for the task given its open public space which will assimilate the State Theatre with the inner-city.

The safety and litter aspects of renewal are not forgotten by the city manager either. Ngobeni, in an interview on Radio 702,is quoted by the Pretoria News as saying that illegal taxi ranks and hawkers trading where they should not, are being “dealt with” and safety features such as illumination and CCV operations will be introduced.

Consistent with the on-going upgrading of government buildings running from the DTI in Sunnyside to the OR Tambo campus of the DIRC in Soutpansberg Road, Munitoria, which was partially damaged by fire back in 1997, will be replaced by the ambitious new council headquarters to be named Tshwane House.

Heading out of the inner city to Centurion the City intends rehabilitating the Centurion Lake and environs. The project is named SymbioCity. The ambitious and seemingly unlikely plan is to build Africa tallest building (110 stories) plus two other towers 80 and 60 stories high, plus hotels and the usual retailand convention spaces.  The project is on 10ha of prime land adjacent to the Gautrain Station. The project’s duration is expected to be eight years.
 
Not everyone is happy about this development. Local restaurateurs on the lake have expressed horror, not to mention anger as they claim not to have been consulted. Over 10% of office space in Centurion is presently vacant as reported by the SAPOA Office Vacancy Surveys. Questions of sustainable demand have been raised.

Time will tell if these plans will come to fruition. They come hot on the heels of announcements regarding the city becoming an ISO-9001 certified entity with the help of Ethics SA and the SABS.

Government has set a target for all municipalities to realise clean audits within the next two financial years, ending in March 2014. Tshwane has achieved unqualified audits in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years so they are well on their way to achieving their ‘clean up’ goals.

Other internal goals include accurate billing of services, as this is a “critical aspect of sound and good governance aimed at ensuring sustainable use of the city’s resources” said Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa recently.

One may argue that this has been one of the foundational challenges in local government across the country, including Tshwane. To remedy the situation, Tshwane will, in the new financial year, launch a rollout of prepaid electricity meters.

That of course leaves the controversial matter of the city’s name change and whether that’s a matter for a new broom or not. The municipality claims to have exhausted its legislative obligations with regard to the Pretoria name change.  AfriForum, have argued that the consultation process was insufficient. So watch this space for the outcome.

Pretoria’s new broom is sweeping inside and outside; hopefully when the dust clears everything will be as cleansed as proposed.

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